Have you thanked your trashman?
Sitting in my Dad's studio, he relaxed across the red, paint-speckled table. We were having one of our usual afternoon hangouts, time-shared without the need to fill the room with a conversation but rather to enjoy each other's company. He reached for the phone –– a landline, of course, because this 'dude' didn't see the purpose in a cell phone. He was content sitting there in his tropical swim trunks and tee-shirt; this was his uniform of choice, representing his mantra that life is the vacation. He glanced at his yellow pad of legal-sized paper and dialed up a number. After a couple of rings, he began speaking,
"Oh, hi there, this is Tom Roderick on Iris; I just wanted to call and let you all know that Luis has been doing a fantastic job, and someone should just know that."
A moment of quiet, I look up at him, mouthing the words "who are you talking to?"
He kept talking and said, "Yes, please, do let him know that I said so. He's been really helpful and is a stand-up guy."
Another moment of quiet, "Yes, that's all, thanks again, we appreciate you guys."
Click. He hung up the phone.
"Dad, who were you just talking to?"
"Oh, I called Western Disposal; I wanted to let them know how awesome our trashman has been; I wanted to make sure he was getting the recognition he deserves. I told him this morning, but that just didn't feel like enough."
Wow, I was surprised; that was thoughtful—end scene.
This memory might be one of the most savored moments I shared with him. Out of nowhere, he stopped what he was doing to show appreciation to another, someone relatively removed from his daily life, a trashman at that. This was a lesson; I don't think he was implying to teach me, but this day has left me with greater awareness. If we all took one second to thank or appreciate someone beyond our circle, how would this help others? How could this improve someone's day or give them the boost of confidence they might need? We all harbor this incredible power to express appreciation and impact someone else for the better. Gratitude is a universal remedy that could help ninety percent of our problems.
When painting gratitude, your heart is filled with a warm sensation simply because you were able to make another feel their best. Now, not to go overboard, but the best part of these shared encounters, this euphoric drug per se, is it's free. You can do it at any moment of the day. Being kind doesn't cost you a penny, and these simple gestures add up to make the most significant differences. I'm not suggesting we spew words we don't mean, but when you think good things share them, there is no point in hesitating, spread goodness.
"Rachel Rae, I have something important to tell you, in life, you treat a person sitting with soiled clothes on a corner with the same respect as your teacher with a PhD, whether they be your friend or your rival, they are your equal and deserve to be treated with kindness. Kindness will carry you."
Now that I process these experiences and apply my borderline insane observation skills, I have found the silver lining in loss; these are the stories that won't be lost. They are the gifts that keep on giving. Every moment we can share, every story, every word of graciousness, every paradigm shift, allow us to paint a prettier picture, motivate another, start a friendship –– simply by sharing the words someone else might need to hear.