• When my mother was alive, she used to preach to me again and again about the value of just being nice.

    "Never underestimate the power of a smile," she would say.

    I fear she would be very disappointed looking at the world today.

    A lot of people don't smile and, when it comes to service today, they're just not nice.

    Now, don't get me wrong, not all service workers -- but a good many.

    I was on the phone the other day with a computer help desk. First a man, then later a woman, who couldn't have been ruder. And this to a customer, who did know his way around a PC. But no matter, I could tell they thought I was a bother. The woman, in fact, seemed to be chewing gum as she unemotionally clicked off a series of commands for me to perform.

    The next day I heard from a friend of mine who got a performance review without his boss once looking up at him. Not once.

    You see it everywhere: The cashier who won't move for you. The bank teller who loses patience with you. The boss who couldn't be bothered even acknowledging you.

    Gone are the days when people cared about you. It's a sign of the times, I suspect. Many people are in many jobs they do not like. They're not happy. And people who aren't happy aren't inclined to make you happy.

    But that makes me sad -- for them and for this country.

    People who aren't happy, who don't smile, who don't kid, who don't joke or make light of even bad situations, make for an even worse situation.

    And it radiates like a cancer. Someone's rude to you, you're rude to them and to the next fellow you meet, and on and on, until we become a nation of un-smiling, snapping, sniveling stiffs. And you can't tell me we all don't suffer -- economically too!

    Smiles are contagious but so are scowls. The boss who can't be bothered with his peon workers. The celebrity who can't be bothered with her annoying fans.

    You know, my mom used to judge presidential candidates by how they smiled and if she liked them personally. I would say, "But Mom, you don't know if that smile is real."

    "Oh, yes I do," she would tell me. "I can feel it."

    It's in their eyes, she would say. And it's in their smile. The rest just kind of falls into place.

    Watch Neil Cavuto's Common Sense weekdays at 4 p.m. ET on Your World with Cavuto.