11/09/09 — It's all about the smile ...

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It's all about the smile ...

By Laura Collins
Published in News on November 9, 2009 1:46 PM

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Sam's Club greeter Vicki Mozingo, left, and reporter Laura Collins check the cart and receipt of a customer leaving the store. In addition to checking receipts, Mrs. Mozingo also takes the time to greet those who come through her line at the store.

The Company: Sam's Club

The Job: Door greeter and tire technician

The Location: Goldsboro

When I first arrived at Sam's Club, I wasn't sure what to think about the woman working at the door.

"Well, heeeey ladybug!" greeter Vicki Mozingo said.

Mrs. Mozingo is a small woman, with a smile that stretches from ear to ear and a laugh that you could hear within a one-mile radius.

"Girl, you better smile," she said to me.

I stood alongside her and began checking people's receipts and carts as they were leaving the store.

It wasn't long before I noticed that people were very obviously trying to bypass me so they could get in Mrs. Mozingo's line. And it was pretty apparent why.

Mrs. Mozingo, who has been a greeter at Sam's for more than 15 years, has come to be a mainstay for people coming and going at the store. She knows several of them by name and what has been going on in their lives.

In the course of five minutes she called someone a "ladybug," "superstar" and almost everything ended with "praise the Lord." If they weren't smiling before they encountered Mrs. Mozingo, they certainly were after.

In my line, however, I wasn't as successful.

"You're not Vicki," one man said.

"You're right," was all I could come up with.

The people who simply didn't respond at all were the ones that perplexed me the most.

I checked one lady's cart and handed her back her receipt.

"Here's your receipt, and you're good to go," I said.

No response from her.

"OK, thanks for coming in," I tried again.

No response.

"Hope you come back soon," I said, walking after her this time.

I think my competitive streak would have caused me to follow that poor woman to her car until she finally acknowledged my existence, but Mrs. Mozingo stopped me.

"I said that out loud right? That wasn't just in my head," I asked her.

"No, sometimes people are like that," she said. But added that she doesn't let it bother her. "When you look at someone, you don't know what they've been through or what they're going through."

And at that moment I understood, this was a woman who was a whole lot wiser than I was.

The silent customers weren't very frequent, and most of the people were excited to exchange some banter with Mrs. Mozingo. With many of them she shared her latest feat, reaching her money-raising goal for the Children's Miracle Network at Duke Hospital.

"My husband and I always loved kids," she said. "When he passed away, I still wanted to do something to help."

Mrs. Mozingo has done more than help. She has been wearing a button on her Sam's vest since May, and collecting dollars for the cause. As of last week, Mrs. Mozingo reached the $10,000 mark.

"The Lord has blessed me with favor with people," she said. "I love people, and it doesn't matter if they're infants or whatever age."

When Mrs. Mozingo took a break, I was transferred to the tire department to work with tire technicians Robert Taylor and Jeff Braswell.

While in the tire department, they taught me how to mount tires on rims, balance tires and put them on a van. Note: All of this was supervised and my work was checked and then rechecked. Twice. They had little faith in my tire capabilities.

I've put on a spare tire before, but this was my first experience with an impact wrench. It was awesome. I'm currently looking for reasons I may need one in the newsroom. After putting on the first tire, I looked for some praise from Taylor. What I got was a somewhat backhanded compliment.

"That was good," he said. But then added, "Get about 100 times faster and then maybe you could do it for NASCAR."

"Do me a favor, never fill in for Vicki at door greeter," I joked with him.

The questionable "compliment" was lackluster after my positive experience at the door.

I guess I learned that positive attitude -- and an undying smile -- really can take you a long way.