Monday, June 4, 2012
monday mission :: spread kindness
This weeks mission is to spread kindness.
But, I have a different take on it. Instead of premeditating a kind act (like paying parking meters or leaving muffins on a neighbor's doorstep), let's go all guerrilla kindness!
Go about your regularly schedule life but turn off the constant inner monologue. Try your very hardest to keep yourself open all week.
By getting out of your own head when you are in public places, you will be able to REALLY see others, connect to their humanity and feel what they might need.
I thought of this idea the other week and was treated to an amazing experience the very next day (an experience that I almost missed because of my own self involvement).
My family and I were headed out of town for an impromptu museum and adventure day. My husband pulled up in front of the library so I could run in and quickly grab a book on tape for the hour and half ride. As soon as I entered the library and scanned the new books, an elderly man approached.
"Do you know the computer?" he asked me in a heavily accented voice as he held out a receipt with a website and some numbers scrawled on it. "Uh, yeah" I replied a little confused, "you need to go over there to the computer lab."
I walked him over, only to find out that he already had a computer and was stuck on filling out his application to Wendy's. My heart dropped. My kids were outside so excited to get on the road, this looked complicated, and why was this old man applying to work at Wendy's?
One real look into his pleading, watery blue eyes, made me sit down. We got started and when I realized that this was going to be complicated, I told my waiting family to come in, I would be awhile. By being open, I could feel something flowing in me, just beneath the surface. It whispered, "Be here with him. Help him."
While I helped him fill out his application, I learned that this 76 year old Italian immigrant had worked as a chef in New York and Hawaii for the last 40 years. I realized that he must have remembered living under Mussolini and spent WW2 in Italy. I knew he had lived a big life just as a consequence of his longevity and surely had some amazing stories to share. He was now in Florida with family and given the current economy needed to find a job.
My heart broke. He was so energetic, optimistic and willing to work every day for 12 hours, if he needed to. But he was also sort of helpless. He willingly handed me his driver's license, social security card, phone numbers and address. No one else in the computer lab would help him. So he found me when he was wandering around the lobby seeking assistance.
Confused at why he could not apply for a job in person, we found the internet application to be weird and insulting.
He was asked insipid questions like, "if there is a cup on the floor, will you pick it up, or call a manager over to get it?" He could not understand why they would ask questions like that. Because that is how far some of us have fallen, I wanted to say. We can utilize a computer to apply for a job, but lack the common sense to pick up a cup. We laughed at alot of the questions and I gave him the number to a local Italian owner restaurant, thinking he might have better luck there.
The whole encounter did not take much longer than 30 minutes and when I refused money for helping him, he shook my hand and wished for many blessings to befall my family. A blessing which I must say, I am still benefitting from.
So, this week look for opportunities to serve others. If someone approaches you, relax. Do not immediately try to angle to get away. Stop trying to protect yourself and your attention. See what blessing might come your way.
Oh, and for a bit of irony. This man shared the same same name of the artist we were in such a big hurry to see.
If you have a story and encounter this week, I would love it if you shared it here.