I had country music videos on the tv as background while I was on the computer. Tim McGraw’s new song “Humble and Kind” came on. It’s a really good one. I’m glad for him. Anyway, it made me flash back a few years ago to a work situation.
I worked in a multi-racial shop. It wasn’t something I noticed most of the time. I tend to notice someones’ morals or work ethic before I notice skin color. Several women were black, many were Mexican american and I realized in amusement that I was the only white person in the shop. But what was always special, is we were all just women. Mothers, sisters, aunts, wives, some the only support for their families, we were all just women working together to do a job to help our families. We all had problems with home or kids or how to pay the bills and all worked together and helped each other when we could.
The one time I felt odd, was when we got a new employee. She loved to begin speaking spanish with the others every time she went into one area of the shop. I could hear their words in the background but couldn’t understand. It made me notice for the first time that even though we all worked together towards a common goal, we were all very different. We came from different backgrounds. We were raised in different environments. And the language gathered some together into a clique and isolated others. It was an interesting observation of how “kind tends to stick to kind”.
My mind then jumped to when I was new to some of the employees and an oddity. I was older, in a chair, and obese. There was an air of distance or “hmm does this mean we are going to have to help her? That wasn’t part of my job description. or is she in that chair because she’s lazy?” It was uncomfortable for me, as if I had to prove myself to them.
I was the one who decorated the wedding cakes and did a lot of hand work; making fondant accent pieces or figurines, and this could all be done sitting down. I did frequently have to ask for help in lifting things, or getting things down off of shelves and sometimes tried to do more than was easy for me, causing things to topple and fall onto my head instead of asking too often. It was a balancing game I had to play and sometimes it added to my work stress. I had to ask for help to keep myself safe, but didn’t want to add too much to others workloads by asking for help too often.
I realized that always saying thank you was a huge thing. It was something I was always taught to do, say please and thank you and said it easily. It took a few months, but one day I noticed others also saying thank you for simple every day small things we tend to take for granted.
I realized that the very small things are what we tend to take for granted and also what can be valuable to others. Just a simple thank you can go a long way in showing appreciation for someones help in day-to-day things and show that we notice their contributions no matter how small.
A smile can lift a spirit. We never know what burdens others are carrying. Most of us try to leave our home problems at the door when we go to work, but they are still there stewing around. A smile of appreciation or a simple thank you can do wonders to make us realize we have more than just problems.We are noticed. We are appreciated. We have value. We are important.
And the simple courtesies work both ways. We can lift our own spirits by giving a simple smile to someone. That might be all that we can muster on that particular day, but we will usually get a positive response which can also lift our own spirits and soothe fragile emotions.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Open a door for someone. PIck up something someone dropped and hand it to them with an empathetic smile. Say excuse me. Say, oops sorry. Say thank you. And mean it. And don’t forget: someone is always watching you and judging you by how you treat others. Simple courtesies. The are catching and they will enrich everyone.