Don't worry, be happy

Cameron's cheerful outlook wins over customers and employees

No customer at Craig's KFC/Taco Bell is safe from getting a smile and a chipper greeting from Manager Don Cameron.

It's not unusual for the upbeat leader to recognize the order of a regular customer or to match a voice to a name while taking orders at the store's drive-in. Until recently, Cameron knew what a regular customer, a Fed-Ex driver, would order: a Grilled Chicken Stuft Burrito and a medium Sierra Mist. "He changed it on me today," Cameron said smiling. "He ordered a Twister because he said he was trying to lose weight."

Cameron may be even better at reading people as he is at remembering orders. He knows that a poor attitude breeds poor performance. That's why Cameron, who seems to always sport a smiling face and is quick with a witty remark, earned a spot in the top wage earners for his company for the past nine out of 10 years, he said.

A Craig resident of more than two years, Cameron has worked in the fast food business with KFC/Taco Bell and Arby's for the past 35 years.

Cameron decided a long time ago to be thrilled about his work. That notion became apparent to Cameron in a class he once took on Transactional Analysis. Probably the best-known expression of the psychotherapy technique is the "I'm OK, you're OK" thinking that helps reinforce the value and worth of everyone, according to psychologists. Cameron said using that technique in managing people creates a better work environment.

"It's so much easier being happy rather than grumpy all the time," Cameron said. "If you treat people well, you're more than likely to get a smile back. It has to do with getting what you want out of people."

Cameron admits he has a lot to smile about.

One of Cameron's goals this year is to be able to treat his family -- his wife, Luzmila, and two daughters -- to a Hawaiian vacation to celebrate his 50th birthday.

As one of his company's top managers, Cameron has been to the Aloha State five times on all-expenses paid vacations. Other company-paid vacations or conventions have taken him around the country.

"My philosophy is you have to work hard to get what you want," he said. "I love planning vacations."

Cameron moved to Craig from Denver nearly three years ago, citing a desire to get away from the city's hustle and bustle. The move allows him time to spend with his brother, Sgt. Marvin Cameron of the Craig Police Department.

And it allows Cameron to be near one daughter who decided to attend Moffat County High School instead of a Denver-based school this year, Cameron said.

Cameron said he likes the quality of life in Craig over a bigger city like Denver.

"I like to visit but I don't like to stay," he said of Denver.

Cameron said he is amused when people catch onto his good-natured attitude. While managing the Steamboat Taco Bell, Cameron said people would seek him out, wanting to meet the fast food worker fast gaining a reputation for being consistently cheerful.

"I'm not going to lie," he said. "I'm not always going to be happy at work. But a manager in any place controls the atmosphere at work. No one wants to work for someone who' s unhappy."

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