It’s no secret that I travel a total of at least 4 hours (on a good day) to and from work. My commute involves the use of the bus, tram, train, 2 different tube lines and a short walk. Often these commutes leave me feeling exhausted before the day has even started and fully wiped out by the time I’ve gotten home, needless to say I don’t usually get to enjoy the scenery whilst I travel or even pay attention to what’s around me.
Something happened recently that made me think differently to how I’ve been acting.
My job is hard, it’s really tough and sometimes I wonder how and why I ever got into what I’m doing now. I’m incredibly passionate, emotional and I feel the best part about my job is the close contact and rapport I can have with my clients. The one thing that makes up for the many bad days is when I get a message or a call from one of my clients who tell me that my service has made a difference to their lives, I feel so fulfilled when I hear back from someone saying that with help from our Charity they have been able to feel happier or changed for the better even in some small way…
One day I was on the bus, the guy in front of me was arguing with the bus driver and he stormed off, shouting at the driver. It made me think about how it felt to be shouted at by my clients, when it first happened; I went home and broke down. Sometimes I feel like I’m too soft for my job! But nowadays it’s happened so often, even if at times it’s been through no fault of my own, that I’m quite used to it. In a situation where you are unable to help EVERYONE, people are bound to get annoyed or angry and me being their first point of contact for our programme, I’m the person they will lash out to… even if I am used to it now, it doesn’t mean it gets any easier, nor’ does it mean I no longer feel that embarrassment and sadness when someone is incredibly rude and vile to you. I sympathised with the bus driver, I looked at the mixture of shock and hurt on his face and wondered what was going through his head. When it was my turn to swipe my card, I smiled at him and he tried to smile back but I could tell his mind was otherwise occupied.
When we finally got to my stop, I walked towards the exit, but right before I got off, I waved to the bus driver and shouted ‘Thank you!’ from his mirror I saw him do a double take, think for a moment then smile and say thank you as if in some kind of disbelief.
After that encounter it made me really think about what it meant. Why did he seem so confused and surprised? Why did he go from looking so sad and annoyed to suddenly so happy?
And then it hit me. My simple thank you, which seemed so little to me, might have just made his day. Over the next few weeks I would make the point of saying hello to every driver on the bus I was catching and say thank you when leaving. The experience was so bizarre because never did I expect to be met with surprise by most of them. It wasn’t just my thank you that was appreciated by the drivers; it was also the other passengers who cared enough to show their appreciation.
One of the things I was most shocked by was how few there were of people on their commutes going wherever it was they were headed to, who took a few seconds of their clearly busy schedules to thank the person who was helping make their day a little easier.
I was so surprised that just a small nod of gratitude was something people were incapable of doing… I say incapable because I do not want to accept that people can be so rude as to blank another human being in such a degrading way.
That one reaction from the bus driver was enough for me to realise the poor attitude I had been exhibiting since moving here, it made me see that sometimes I needed to take my eyes off of my phone screen and look at the people around me.
I think we get so busy living our lives we forget about those around us. Waitresses, have you ever been serving a customer and thought, a little thank you would be nice! Doctors have you ever been with a patient when their gratitude and appreciation warmed your heart? Did you go home that night thinking; all the stress that I endure is worth it when I get that smile from someone I helped? Well, imagine that feeling next time you’re someone’s customer.
No matter what career you’re in, what kind of people you deal with, no matter how stressful your job is, or how tired you are, you should never feel too busy to just give someone a smile or a polite thank you… you don’t know what the other person has been going through, or what kind of life they are living and that thank you may take 2 seconds to say and about a small ounce of effort but it could mean the whole world to the person receiving it.
Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
(I stole that quote from the Bible but I felt it was necessary here.)
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud everyday!
Peace and Love