Today I was at the local hospital picking up something at the pharmacy. An older gentlemen named Burt was there to open the door for me. I said, “Hi, Burt, how are you?” Then I stopped and waited for his answer. He became very confused and asked me, “Who are you?”
I realized that he was used to people not saying his name and just calling out a speedy “Thank you,” if that, or maybe a “Hi” as they sped off to their appointment in the building. He was anonymous. To have someone acknowledge his name, ask him a personal question, and wait for the answer was abnormal. Of course, I’m pretty abnormal anyway, so that doesn’t bother me.
This post has come out of that experience. I realized that that meant a lot to him when I left. He patted me on the back as he opened the door for me and he told me in a gentle voice, “You go and have a really nice day.” I’m asking myself how many people have thankless jobs like Burt? They open the doors for people invisibly, or park people’s cars invisibly, or check people in to the hospital or doctor’s visits invisibly. They have name tags, but their names are never acknowledged. They are invisible, but invaluable.
Take the street sweeper: what would happen if they stopped cleaning our streets? Yet, instead of waving, many of us curse them. What would happen if people stopped repairing the roads? Yet we curse road work every day for being inconvenient. How about the next time you inch by the road workers you give them a smile and a wave? Or what about the fast food worker? We’d never get our Big Mac with Extra Fries if some invisible worker wasn’t flipping burgers behind the counter. What about the person wearing the name tag sitting in front of you checking you into your next doctor’s appointment? What if you had to check yourself in with an automated system instead of seeing her smiling face? What is her name anyway?
What would happen if you read the front desk lady/man’s name tag at your next appointment and said, “Hi, _____, my name is _____, I’m here to see _______. How are you?” Then wait for their response. I guarantee you will get either suspicion or shock the first time, but if you continue (if you’re a regular) they will begin to look forward to seeing you because you are a spot of kindness in their lives. It’s time for us to be aware of people around us and start listening to hear them instead of listening to respond to them.
True kindness and acknowledgment of people’s presence seems to be the thing of the past these days. Yet, couldn’t it make a return? This post is for all of you who feel your job is invisible and unimportant. Just think what would happen if you weren’t there? The office, street, sidewalk, electricity, sewer, or whatever you are doing, would be an absolute mess right now! You are important! I acknowledge your name and your importance today. How are you? I hope you go and have a really nice day.