What Can You Give?
“You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” John Wooden
I travel a good bit for work. When I’m on the road, aside from not having my family near me, what stands out most is how much I consume.
I’m not merely talking about food, though that certainly applies, but I consume services. The service starts in the parking lot and continues through security, Starbucks, Delta, the taxi guy, the hotel front desk, Starbucks again, and on and on. People all around me are aiding, shuffling, serving me as I walk through the world.
This “me” centered approach seems perfectly normal until I stop long enough to notice that one individual looks sad, another appears tired, and another bored. Very few appear happy or content, but it's difficult to know their story.
And that's what I need to remember - they HAVE a story.
Sure, these are regular people doing their jobs, but they have hopes and dreams. They have fears and frustrations. They are someone’s daughter or son and have people that love them and are concerned about their life. Meanwhile I barely look them in the eye. I focus on whether or not they are moving the line along and meeting my needs.
On good days, I slow down, make eye contact, and smile.
On better days, I demonstrate patience and gratitude.
On the best days, I give something back.
Giving back isn’t particularly difficult. How hard is it to say, “thanks for serving me today” or, “you’ve done a great job with that” or, “I appreciate your help”?
No, the challenge isn’t what to do, for me the challenge is stepping into the awkwardness of encouraging a stranger; it’s taking the time to pause and communicate.
I’ve never regretted giving back to those who serve.