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Alice Yang
Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star.
She is a student at Stephen F. Austin High School-FBISD.

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
The secret to happiness  

Thereís this guy at work who always smiles.

I mean always, as in 24/7, even when heís just by himself. His name is Mario. Short, curly hair. Ear-to-ear grin. Speaks not a single word of English.

Itís contagious. Whenever I see him and his smile, I canít help but smile too. And then, without exchanging a single word, we both gradually grin and then burst out laughing with splinters in our sides.

The other night, I, with my broken Spanish, asked him why he always smiles. And he replied with a huge grin and careless shrug, ďMe gusta la vida.Ē

I love life. As simple as that. And then he went back to frying chicken while dancing to the Spanish salsa rock music that boomed in the background.

Youíd think that people who work at fast food joints would be indifferent to life, bored of its monotony, numb to its hardships. Well, thatís what I thought too, before I met some amazing people.

Thereís Ruben, who takes me square-dancing whenever a country music song comes on the radio and who has taught me more Ďusefulí Spanish words than all the ones Iíve learned in school.

Thereís Luis, who runs around chasing the girls and bursts out laughing to hide the pain when he slips and falls flat on the ground.

Thereís Jony, who goes to boot camp for acting up in school but is a gentleman at heart, opening doors and cabinets and doing all the dirty work so I donít have to.

Thereís Jovany, who Ďaccidentallyí drinks from my cup and is the adorable newbie that asks to work Saturdays because thatís when Iím there.

Thereís Shaterica, the crazy girl who keeps colored pens in her hair and makes me extra food to eat even when Iím not hungry.

Thereís Arnesha, the varsity basketball player who is my original trainer and my friend.

Thereís Pili, who likes black nail polish and discusses with me, in Spanish, the presence of God, Heaven, and Hell.

Thereís Eddie, the stressed-out Filipino manager who lets me give out free food before midnight to my friends and whose witty, succinct remarks never fail to make me laugh.

Thereís Ines, short for Alejandro, the rocker who argues with me about UFO sightings in Galveston.

Thereís Sergio, who never tells me his real age, works two jobs, and has jokingly asked me to marry him.

These are the people Iíve befriended the past half -year. Saturday evenings would always turn into a party with Dennis bringing in Chinese food and Shaterica and I exchanging trade deals with Smoothie King down the street. There would be music, eating, and dancing, and all of us running around preparing food or just chasing each other.

Most of them are seniors like me. Some plan to work there permanently; some already do.

Itís funny, and ironic; work is the only place I find such genuine people with such genuine love for life. In school, half the people are killing themselves (myself included), trying to get into college, trying to get a career, trying to make money while compromising passions, trying to find the elusive happiness thatís always in the future. But few know what or where real happiness is; most are just propelled along life by an invisible force outside of their control.

Where is happiness? There is no set answer to that question. It varies for each individual and the paths taken to find it. If itís in a successful career, go for it. If itís in finding love and starting a family, go for it. If itís in getting into the college of your dreams, go for it. If itís in frying chicken and listening to Spanish salsa rock, go for it.

Who are we to judge?

The secret to happiness?

ďMe gusta la vida.Ē

Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star. She is a student in FBISD.

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   Last Update:  November 29, 2006