Monday, January 31, 2011

Little Things

    While you are out there taking a long hard look at what is not working in our world don’t forget to stop long enough to appreciate what is working.  I call them the little things, because it is not only the big self sacrificing acts of giving that show us love and compassion, it is the little everyday sweet things that the people in our lives do to ease our burdens that truly define the divine spirit of oneness.
     Little things; when you really want that cup of coffee but you are stuck at work, somebody not only brings you one but they turn down your offer to pay them back.  Little things; you run out of change for laundry, your neighbour gives you a bunch of loonies and won’t accept anything in return.  Little things; you are hurt and can’t quite keep up at work, but your team picks up the slack and when you thank them they simply smile and say you’d do the same for us.
     Look around you when you leave your house today and see how many of those little things just happen to pop up.  If your hands are full and a stranger opens the door, that’s a little thing.  If you aren’t feeling well and the people you live with do more around the house so you won’t have to expend energy you don’t have, that’s a little thing.  When some stranger on the bus gets up and offers and elderly person a seat, that’s a little thing.
Here is what I’ve seen through my job as a server in a local restaurant, if this does not show the selfless nature of the human spirit than I am at a loss for what will.
     A young couple come in, they have their meal, enjoy their evening but when it comes time to go the man discovers he can’t find his wallet.  He goes to the car thinking he left it there but no luck and now they are starting to look a bit panicked.  The young lady doesn’t have her purse, it’s her birthday and it was supposed to be his treat.  He begins to explain it to me but before I have the chance to offer to cover the cost of the meal a woman from the next table quietly reaches over and lays the cash to pay for the meal into his hands. 
     I remember him being completely shocked, speechless for a few minutes until he finally managed to mumble a thank-you.  Then he gave the money back...
     He spoke to management and left his ID, then went to get the cash.  I remember asking her after they had left why she had done it.  I thought at the time that she knew them but she had answered no, she just felt it was the right thing to do.  That was over a year ago, and since that day I have seen her often but never mentioned it until last week, when I sat with her for a moment and told her I had written my first book, and was now working on my second.  I explained that I was planning on putting this story in it.  I was touched by the tears shining in her eyes.  A simple thing, an offer to pay for a meal and maybe now that one simple act will be read by many who will see how a simple kind deed can touch more than one heart.
     An elderly gentleman dining at our restaurant had a massive heart attack.  Out boss worked tirelessly for 20 minutes doing CPR until the ambulance came but was never able to revive him.  We all assumed the worst and our boss I am sure was tormented by the realization that this man could not be saved.  Yet a week later the man’s son came in to thank our boss for his efforts and to explain that the gentleman in question had lived for days after his heart attack.   His family had the chance to say goodbye and for that the son was very grateful.  It was remarkable to me that he had taken the time out of his own grieving to understand and act on the very real probability that his father’s death had affected more than just him and his family.  I told him so and thanked him for his kind words to our boss.
     An elderly couple had a small accident in our parking lot; the lady had tripped and fallen and the gentleman had tried to catch her.  They came in bruised and bleeding one extremely busy afternoon and waited patiently for a table.  Our young hostess, harassed and surrounded by more than a dozen people asking for seats didn’t notice, but a customer passing by did.  He came over to ask if they were ok which caught my attention as I was rushing by.  I dropped what I was doing and went to work cleansing the gentleman’s hands, taking my time to bandage them up and stop the bleeding.  I had a full section, and it was a very long time before I was able to get back to my tables yet not one person complained.  In fact when I apologized to them they told me not to worry, they had seen what I had done and they were more than willing to wait.  I did however do something that day that I am not proud of; I scolded our young hostess for not taking care of the elderly customer and told her she had a lot to learn about compassion; it was something I felt horrible for days after yet a month later I walked by her while she was tending to yet another elderly customer who had injured her hand.  Our young woman was kneeling by the table, patiently and gently applying ice to the woman’s fingers.  I whispered to her that she was a sweet girl and she offered me a little smile.  I can’t say my words to her the first time were right, because it is never right to judge but I can say I am happy that I was just more than a little wrong about this girls willingness to care.  The elderly couple did come back two weeks later to thank me, and the gentleman proudly showed me his hands, they were fine; no marks, no scars, no infection and as he said no worries.
     I recently got an injury that makes it difficult to do my job yet I still have bills to pay like everybody else and so have been trying to continue to work.  My co-workers have shown me what it is to hold somebody up until they can again walk on their own.  They lift things for me, do all the things for me that really I can’t do for myself.  My boss, who could have told me to stay home until I am better, instead goes out of his way to explain to customers that I am only able to use one hand and ask them to be patient; they are.
     I have seen one young man from a table on one side of the restaurant put down his own plate of food then follow a complete stranger around plate in hand helping her get what she needed.  We are a buffet and she was an elderly woman in a wheelchair struggling with her attempts to move the chair and balance her meal.  I watched him walk by her, notice her, turn around, put his plate down on the nearby counter and go to her offering her his assistance.  I watched as he spent time with her, getting her what she wanted then bringing it back to her table for her.  Only after she was seated did he go back to getting his own dinner.  I asked her if she knew him and she told me no – but added that she would like to because isn’t he a sweet young man. I had to agree.
     What about the waitress, a single mother struggling to pay her bills who went out of her way to buy 15 crossword books in large print for one of elderly customer because he was going into the hospital for surgery.  He loved crosswords, his family was very far away and his eyesight was horrid.  His name was Bill, her name was Jackie and I hope someday she sees this and realizes how big a difference the little things make.
    And you see, that’s the key, if you are looking for the answer to life’s dilemmas; if you are looking for the Holy Grail, God’s light as it were, the salvation of mankind.  You will find it in the little things; the random acts of selfless kindness...
     Sure these people could be angels, they could but they aren’t.  I know an angel when I see one, they give off a bit of a glow to the well trained connected eye and none of these people were angels.  They were just people, ordinary every day, work for a living, struggle to survive people.
    And they are why we are here.
     Not one of those people knew I was watching, they had no idea I’m a write or a messenger of hope and they would probably not care.  I do.  I care a great deal for every person out there who displays compassion and understanding for no other reason than that is simply who they are.  I care, my soul cares, my spirit cares and my creator cares.  Perhaps you also should care because they are the ones who will save this world, they are the reason humanity has a chance to survive.  To those people I say thank-you for all the little things you do every day to bring light and love into our world.  Thank-you.
Jean Victoria Norloch

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