This post is originally from March 2011.
There's this guy who works the service elevator that has a very strong accent. I can barely understand what he is saying when he talks to me. A few weeks ago, my boss was out for a few days and I had to perform his daily duties, which included using the service elevator to get the mail.
I was dreading it.
I'm usually a very outgoing, friendly person. Heck, this morning I sat down at Starbucks with two people while waiting for my drink because they striked up a convo while I was in line. Not like I need to say this (but obviously I feel like I should), I have empathy for people. I cry at that stupid Chipmunks movie (the animated one) because some baby penguin lost its Mom. And don't get me started on How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey version).
However, I would pray this particular man wouldn't be the attendant when I needed to go downstairs. I'd bring my headphones to look preoccupied so he wouldn't talk to me. But he always did. He would ask me where I was from and then forget and ask me again the next day. He would ask me about where my ancestors are from and go on to tell me that German women are "the best, strongest women." (I can't argue with him.) He'd repeat a lot of what he was saying and I was finding myself annoyed to no end.
I came into work one day the next week and I found a Kitson gym bag on my chair. I figured it was from my boss (he's always leaving me magazines and samples and whatnot) and called to tell him thanks, but he had no idea what I was talking about. It was pretty bizarre.
That day my boss asked me to deliver the mail, so of course I had to take the service elevator. As I got in, I saw it was the guy I dread talking to.
"Hello, good to see you! You look very nice today," he says.
"Do you like your bag?"
My heart immediately sank. This man got me the gym bag.
"You got me that?"
"Yes, I thought you would like it. My daughter likes hers so I figured you would too," in his broken English.
Honestly, it took every bone in my body not to break down and cry. It's so true, that you don't know how you will affect people or what you might be doing for them, just by carrying on a simple conversation. We never talked about anything deep, and our conversations were always less than two minutes. Plus, what if that was my Dad? I couldn't handle how I had originally thought about him. I thanked him and you can bet that now I happily talk to this man.
There is no greater loan than a sympathetic ear. -- Frank Tyger
There's this guy that works in the sports and entertainment division of our office and we always give each other a hard time. He's one of the younger agents and he's hilarious. Of course we have a senseless banter type of thing going on, and yesterday I noticed he got a box from ProFlowers in the mail. I thought this was hilarious -- a guy was getting flowers? I couldn't WAIT to harass him about it.
I go to deliver them and he's on the phone, but I hand them to him. "These are for me?"
Oh yeah. I started in on how someone must be pulling out all the stops for him and I had no idea he liked flowers. Blah blah blah. You know, harmless jabs.
He walks up to my desk a few minutes later with the flowers. "Kirbie, these reminded me of you..."
"Why, because they look like funeral flowers?" (They did.)
"Well, actually, funny you say that..."
I'M GOING TO HELL! This poor guy's grandpa just died. I really don't know how he wasn't sobbing. I'd be a hot mess. He was a good sport and laughed (thank the Lord), but he did mention how his grandpa had just gotten old and died at the age of 92. That he was a good man.
I told him I couldn't respond to him because I felt terrible, not to mention our working relationship consisted of me making fun of his clothing choices and he asking when my Sweet 16 would be, so it was just awful.
What am I trying to say here? Be careful of other people. Yes, careful. Show thought when speaking to others and give them attention. Smile to people you don't know, be kind when it's hard to be, because you never know what could be going on. Stop focusing on how you feel and what you want to do and open your heart to how you can be a joy to someone else. The greatest commandment God has given us is to love others, even through the hard times; their struggles, through our struggles, through the successes, failures, and even the mundane and complacent.
Hopefully everyone reading doesn't see me as a terrible monster after this, but if anything, my empathy quotient has gone through the roof!
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. -- Proverbs 12:25