I had an epiphany the other day at work. I knew the meaning of what I do for a living but my vision became so much clearer. I was doing my job, escorting a guest to see a slideshow presentation of rooms that are only accessible by stairs. This guest chose not to attempt the stairs and wanted to sit for a while. I proceeded to do what we are all supposed to do, ask how her day was going, move the ropes and direct them to the sitting area. When we arrived at the destination, I wished her a wonderful day and thanked her for visiting. The look on her face stopped me in my tracks. Her words were nothing compared to her facial expression. She looked at me like I had just done the most compassionate thing on the planet. Her eyes were wet, her smile huge and our eyes locked for just a second then I moved on.
I was busy and did not think much of the event until some quiet time. Then I looked back on the encounter and realized something so very profound. That guest seemed, to me, as almost shocked at my kindness. I did nothing overly special, just what I am supposed to do. But I realized that in our world today, basic kindness is hard to find let alone anything even remotely over that.
It is so easy to forget in the middle of busy mode, that people are looking for, actually craving, some sort of kindness. We spend our days being cut off in traffic, yelled at by guests because things are not as smooth as expected, service is rushed, and kind words have fallen by the wayside. Any number of slights can be experienced in a single day.
I believe that is why so many people have their heads down, ears full of ear buds, eyes deflected from contact and buried in phone screens. We are scared of being rejected or treated badly. It seems that is the norm. Today, at breakfast, our waitress came to the table with the first words out of her mouth as an apology for the delay in getting to us. We had not even noticed any delay. We joked around and explained that we were in no hurry. She looked amazed that we did not give her a hard time. Then we learned she had been yelled at for slow service by another group. It was a Sunday morning for goodness sake. Can no one chill out anymore?
The world is a rough place in these modern times. My gosh don’t trip or you will be eaten alive by the vultures we call our fellow humans. That makes my heart break. But it makes me realize that I work in a place that requires that we show “gracious hospitality.” At work, it should be a respite from the emptiness of the “outside” world. I need to be better than anyone on the outside of the estate. It was required in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, and is still required today.
Then I kept thinking, I am a Christian. Jesus calls us to be of service to others just as He was on His time on Earth. We do not particularly like that concept in today’s world. Are we not all too important for that? Are we all not too busy for that? When we lose the call (which I have many times in my life) to serve others, don’t we hurt society. A simple act of kindness should not be the rarity in life, should it not be the norm?
I have written on this subject many times, but with each passing day I learn more about the far-reaching effects kindness can have on others. I realize that I am responsible for my actions and I have always been called to service for others. I can no longer allow my ego or my hurt feelings from previous encounters skew my view of service. Man, sometimes you get yelled at and it is hard to come back from that. I am called to take a higher road, one that says shake it off and do not sink to that level. Swearing and kicking things seems so easy for me (especially the swearing part). The hard part is looking the next person in the eye, giving a genuine smile and asking what they need.
It is difficult for this introvert to be so open, but if I can make one person’s day better, isn’t it worth it? Of course it is. I wish the high road was smoother but there is no satisfaction in that. The look on a guest’s face, a big full-on smile or a thank you are the payment that makes it all clear. Sometimes, there is no recognition for the effort and that also requires taking the higher road.
This idea of super-hyper self awareness is so very hard. This journey started out just about me, but quickly changed to not being about me at all. Although I am learning how to act as a human, it is truly about others. People I see for a minute and never again. But I have the ability to create a memory that can last for a long time. I still hear from people who I served on the train and that was over two years ago.
That gives me pause. Do I return the rudeness or rise above it? Gosh, it is hard but it is my calling and one cannot deny their calling. Here goes to making the climb to the higher road.