As someone who works in the (n)ever-exciting, fast-paced realm of retail, I answer numerous customer questions every shift. These questions are often easy to answer, but occasionally, you get an adverse reaction. So, if a day is already going awry, I tend to regard approaching customers with a sense of dread looming over me.

During a stressful late shift last week, a little girl and her grandmother stopped me near the entrance of the store while I was the manager on duty. My specialties are more attuned to menswear, so I feared they would be asking me something about children’s clothing. But instead, the grandmother asked me if we had any scarves – not winter scarves, and preferably inexpensive, because the little girl needed if for a class presentation. She was going to be dressing up as someone she finds inspiring – her hero.

And the little girl, as if on cure, looked at me and said, “I’m dressing up like Malala Yousafzai.”

And I froze for a second. Because, really… that’s not the answer I was expecting. A little girl, with blue eyes and a blonde ponytail, living in a fairly conservative area, proudly declaring that her hero is Malala, and she needed the scarf to wear over her head. But as shocked as I was, once I took the time to absorb her words, one emotion overrode it.


As chaotic as the world seems these days – a sort of discord and tension that can even be felt by children – this little girl made me hopeful that the next generation isn’t doomed to be lost. In a world where our leaders often fail to condemn hatred (and, in some cases, seem to condone it), and children can be easily swayed, hearing that little girl, over a decade younger than me, proclaim her admiration for Malala was inspiring. I did a similar project in sixth grade and I dressed up as Paul Revere, so this girl wiped the floor with me.

So I happily showed them our scarves, and when I passed them later on trying out a lovely blue floral one, I made sure to tell her that she looked great, and I hoped her presentation would go well. But though she thanked me for the compliment, I should have thanked her for showing me that there is hope to be found in the younger generation.

Published by Allie Frost

Allie Frost never wears matching socks and she is a MASSIVE coffee snob. Allie has a bachelor's degree in English Literature with a minor in Film Studies from Western New England University. She was a member of the class of '13 and studied abroad in England during the summer of 2011. In late 2014, Frost submitted an entry to the Indie Genius Contest for Writers held by Dragon Tree Books. Her entry, entitled I'm With You, won first place, is out in both print and ebook formats NOW! Links are on the Works Published page! She has a totally healthy obsession with Batman, loves going to the movies, and enjoys playing video games. She also eats pizza with utensils, but hopefully that won't ruin your opinion of her. Photo cred: Rosielou Photography

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