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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

March 26, 2010 at 5:18 AM

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Everybody gets a wave and a smile at Thrasher's Corner

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

mrlibertydos032410m.jpg

Sketched March 23, 10:33 a.m. and March 24, 9:46 a.m. [Click on sketches to see larger]

mrliberty032410m.jpgAnthony Kelly is not the typical sign waver you see with headphones on and a blank gaze. Two years in a row, rain or shine, 8 hours a day, Kelly, 52, has captivated the Thrasher's Corner neighborhood in Bothell with his contagious smile and dedication to his seasonal job, which no one has held for as long. His secret: "Everybody gets a wave."

"You make my day every single day!" shouted a woman from her car as many others honked while I sat to sketch him.

"I miss him when it's not tax season," says Karin Rowles, a neighbor who drives by often. "There are days when, if I'm not in such a good mood, there he is grinning and smiling and waving, it's a real pick-me-up."

Krista Salmon, owner of Liberty Tax Service, recalls a cancer patient who wrote Kelly a thank you letter. Others bring him cookies, gift cards or stop to say how much they appreciate him. "He's like a celebrity."

"People come in every day, they don't even do their taxes, to say how much he lightens up their day," Salmon said.

"They'll get him Subway cards, Starbucks cards... No one does that for me!" said Peggy Duncan, a tax preparer.

Kelly moved from Washington D.C. in 2008 and was happy to find this job, given the economy. And he has mastered it like no one.

He says the key is to make eye contact, smile and give everybody a wave or thumbs up, letting them know that you are having a good day so they feed off your energy.

"I'm making my job fun. You can make your job fun too," he said with a big smile. "Just be glad you got a job."

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