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Sharing the joy: Customers bless drive-through workers for their kindness

Georgia Abbott, left, and Mattie Smith were rewarded by customers with gift baskets for their cheerful work on the drive-through weekday mornings at Detroit Lakes McDonald's. Submitted photo.

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — It's not always easy to treating people right. Some customers are crabby. Maybe you've got a worried mind. And it can be chilly working that drive-through window when it's below zero outside.

But, surprise! When you rise above it all, day after day, and never seem to run out of kind words or lose that cheerful outlook, people notice.

Just look at Georgia Abbott and Mattie Smith, who work the McDonald's drive-through in Detroit Lakes on weekday mornings.

"They are wonderful to work with, always happy, smiling, kind," said Shift Manager Fawn Neadeau.

A group of regular customers couldn't agree more: They got together last Saturday, Dec. 17, and presented the two women with gift baskets to show their appreciation for their daily kindness.

"I'm at a loss for words, this does not happen very often—it was awesome," said Abbott.

"It was a blessing," added Smith. "It was like that (hidden camera reality) show 'Punk'd,' only we got punked in a good way."

It began with some compliments on Facebook, said co-organizer Jessica Cogger of Detroit Lakes.

"It all started for Mattie," she said. "She's always very cheerful, always has compliments, she just brightens everyone's day."

Smith usually takes orders and collects payment at the first window.

She sometimes calls customers "sweetie," and has worked at McDonald's for about seven months. She especially gets a kick out of the fact that some customers drive from Perham to use the Detroit Lakes drive-through.

Abbott always has a cheerful word as she delivers the food to customers at the second window. She's been there for about three years. "It fits in well with my schedule," she said.

Cogger noticed on her Facebook page that two of her friends had posted "these (McDonald's) people are so awesome," and 60 people commented favorably on it.

When she posted on a Detroit Lakes swap-type website that customers should "pay it forward" and show their appreciation to Smith and Abbott, over 150 people joined the conversation, she said.

"They were talking about how awesome these ladies were, and wanted to give something back to them," Cogger said.

Unfortunately, the website deleted that posting, so many of those people were not aware of the event on Saturday.

Still, with a little advance planning, a core group of organizers - including Cogger, Vickie Rudolph, Megan St. Clair and Mina Spalla—made it happen.

They prepared gift baskets with blankets, gift cards, cash and other presents.

Management asked the two employees to come in for a "meeting" on Saturday morning, their day off.

"They had no idea," why they were really asked to come in Saturday, Cogger said.

They seemed a little apprehensive about the unusual work meeting, "but when they realized we were there to gift them and thank them for being kind — being kind goes a long way in the world — they both kind of teared up," Cogger said. "It was pretty great."

And she said the "pay it forward" effort will continue, "because Christmas isn't the only time to pay it forward, or for people to be recognized for their kindness. We will have a Facebook Group that is called Detroit Lakes: Pay it forward."

The site will give everyone a chance to donate and to nominate people to be recognized.