Smiling to customers is an essential part of Aslı Mühürhancı Knowles' job. The 37-year-old Turkish woman who works at a supermarket in the U.S. state of Florida felt the mask she had to wear against the coronavirus deprived her of this act of kindness. So, when she took her grievance to social media, she found widespread support in a country where thousands are embattled with COVID-19.
Knowles, who hails from the western Turkish city of Eskişehir, settled in the United States two years ago after her marriage and was working at a supermarket in Vero Beach, Florida, a pandemic hot spot in the U.S. When she came across a company producing see-through facial coverings for the deaf, she sent them a message asking for one of the masks. “We, cashiers, need to smile to our customers, and we have many hearing-impaired customers. I have to remove my mask every time I need to communicate them,” she wrote, asking for one mask. Upon seeing the request, Brian Travers, founder of Anchor Homemade Designs, immediately sent a mask to her and wrote a letter to the supermarket. “I just want you to know that Aslı’s reason for wanting my clear see-through facial covering with a plastic window is the most selfless reason I have ever come across. She is clearly an asset to your organization, and she should be recognized for going above and beyond for the benefit of others,” he wrote. When the letter hit social media, actor John Krasinski shared it with his 1 million followers, and Knowles’ story soon went viral.
She told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday that she burst into tears when she saw the letter from Travers. After the letter was shared on social media, she received a barrage of messages of appreciation. “If your job involves communicating with people, you should smile. They should be able to see your face. Masks block this,” she said. “Smiling is one of the things we should do amid this pandemic, along with wearing our mask, be careful about social distancing and washing our hands regularly,” she added.