07 May 2007

Kindness for Strangers

Peggy drives for Oregon Coachways, which has the bus contract with Amtrak between Eugene and Astoria. Peggy's gregarious -- clearly likes people, likes driving, likes her job. Peggy also has decided to recycle our trash, and asks that we put all our recyclables in the bag she's provided so that she can take them home and sort them for us. And Peggy has a sense of humor. "I can't make you recycle, but if you don't ... well, narny, narny!"

After deboarding, I wait to thank her, wait while another woman praises her, itemizing Peggy's attributes, then asks to place a blue ribbon overe her heart. The ribbon proclaims, "Who I am is making a difference."

Ray works for Provco, weed-whacking 10-foot perimeters around utility poles. His back aches by the end of the day, especially this time of year when the grass is tall from growing all winter and hasn't been cut back yet.

Ray and I are talking about Highway 299 and Carol's accident. He needs to drive 299 over to Redding on Wednesday morning to take a 7:00 a.m. test. He wanted to take Tuesday off, get some rest before heading over the mountain, but his boss has him scheduled for a 10-hour day. The test -- for his pest-application permit renewal -- is needed for work; without it, his pay is lowered. But he is required to pay for the test and the travel to take it out of his pocket. He has been unable to find a babysitter for his daughter, so he'll be driving 299 at 3:00 a.m. This is what I call a raw deal. (Actually, I think i said something about capitalist pigs...)

Ray has tatoos. One forearm is for his grandpa, the other for his grandma. Each bicep is decorated with a daughter's name in elaborate script. His fiancee's name is written across the back of his neck. (Better marry her!) The abstracts on the back of both arms are "from when I was a bad boy." He's been a good boy for 3 years, as of the day before we're talking.

I enjoy talking with Ray. He's kind, considerate, hardworking, plain spoken, honest. So i ask for his supervisor's phone number, tell him I'm going to tell her so. He beams. She's ecstatic, surprised and delighted to be hearing good news. It's rare that anyone calls with a compliment.

My point? Each of us can take one moment to acknowledge the good we see in each other. One woman I know claims that the best gift we can give is to be happy to see each other. Certainly a sincere smile spreads joy to all who receive it. Whether it's a ribbon, a phone call, a compliment, or a smile, we all can -- and do -- make a difference.

1 comment:

Alex Fayle said...

I agree completely. Whenever someone gives me particularly great service I make sure to thank them. It's sad how amazed these people are that I am complimenting them. It shows that not enough people give praise.