I have a admin at work. Who she really is is everyone’s Problem Solver, a Sympathetic Ear for Everyone’s Problems (work-related or not), the Person Who Takes on Other People’s Work when they’re sick or on vacation, and in general, she practically manages our department’s work. Everything is thrown on her because everyone knows that Patricia (name changed to maintain privacy) can handle anything.
She works tirelessly and selflessly often putting in extra hours for which she’s not paid. I’m sure each of us appreciates her and thanks the Almighty that she’s around, especially when she saves our as$es a ton of work! But, we take her for granted. We mouth the words to her when she completes an assignment for us but we never really thank her.
Last week, at Costco, totally on a whim, I recalled her telling me of her love for flowers and decided to grab a bouquet for her. I tried to sneak them into her office and put them in water while she was out for lunch, but of course, as luck would have it, she came in just as I was setting the vase down. She was totally taken aback. I really didn’t want to make a big deal so I muttered, “Just a small token for putting up with our crap!” and left.
What I didn’t really expect out of my small gesture was how thrilled I made her. She was visibly buoyant. She tended to them and changed the water when it was needed during the week and she had a smile on her face as she worked, openly sharing how the color and fragrance of the blooms made her so happy. When she came to work each day, I could hear her visibly breathe in the sweet smell of the lilies and sit down cheerily to work.
I honestly didn’t know giving someone flowers could make them so happy. I honestly didn’t know that such a small gesture could have such a big impact. And, it was a slap-on-the-forehead moment for me because it was such a effortless thing for me to do; yet, I had taken such a long time to do it.
How many times have we probably thought of doing one little thing for someone who may or may not be in a less fortunate position than we are and then stopped ourselves, thinking that that would be silly or meaningless or just too little? I thought back to how many times I could have made at least one morning nicer for her but didn’t because it seemed insignificant.
We can never tell how our actions affect others. A negative gesture or rude word from us can be devastating for someone who is already down on their luck. On the other hand, a smile from a stranger can be a matter of life or death! So, how can we know how our actions are affecting others and act accordingly? Well, the simple answer is that we can’t. We can however try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and try to think of how we would feel. We can try to be more compassionate and understanding.
We’ll never know until we actually act how happy we can make another person by our simple actions!
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