She returns home each evening and relays the day’s customer service interactions. She wears a uniform and a name tag to work and “That”, she says, “has made me a non-person in the eyes of the customers. It’s like I’m a robot, a machine or just a thing. They don’t look me in the eye, talk to me or acknowledge that I am a person. I want to wear a sign that says talk to me, I’m real!”
She accompanies me to the grocery store now and I lose track of her on every aisle. When I backtrack I find she is having a conversation with the store clerk who is wearing gloves, stocking the freezer section. Not just “hey, how you doing” but a real conversation, listening and interacting. I find she looks everyone in the eyes these days. Really looking at them. Her pace is slower and she notices the people, all the people, around her. She sees them. She treats them like real people that she cares about. She’s walked in their shoes, she’s one of them. And they look back. They smile. And you see them respond, converse with her and become real people.
I saw this picture while the two of us were visiting NYC last weekend. “Christ on a Train” by an unknown artist. And I thought of her. She has been demonstrating for me simple ways of being “Christ On A Train”. Slowing down long enough to notice. To sit with people. To look them in the eye. To see beyond their uniform, name tag or stereotype. To see them as people created by the same one who created me. Loved by the same one who loves me. And the very ones I am asked to love as well.
She’s teaching me a lot these days.
Monthly Archives: October 2011
I fell down this week. Not figuratively. Literally, I fell down on all fours, skinned my knee and bruised my hands. In the middle of an intersection in Armory Square no less. Midday, cars at all sides of the intersection, pedestrians watching kind of fall. I’m walking along and in a moment, with no warning, I’m trying to prevent a face plant to the asphalt. I may have been a bit distracted by the conversation with my daughter that had turned from where to get a coffee to ‘hey, I’m going with a friend who’s getting a tattoo this weekend’. So I may have been preoccupied in my thinking, but who needs to think to walk across the street? Apparently I do.
Falling down can take many forms. It can be the literal face plant to the asphalt. But more often it is the failure to value someone, a moral compromise, a quick judgment of another and then an even quicker sharing of that judgement with others or a host of other examples. Falling down hurts. And it can hurt others. I wounded a friend with a quick judgement and it was painful for her and our relationship suffered as well. But the thing that hurt the most was my pride. It was painful to admit that I had fallen down and hard to ask for forgiveness. The longer I waited to admit what we both knew, the deeper the pain inflicted our friendship. Pride, when wounded, can take on a life of its own growing stronger and more resistant to humility with each passing day. It is only when I finally admit that I have fallen down, wounded my friend with my words, and ask for forgiveness that healing can begin to take place.
As I lay sprawled on Franklin Street my daughter helped me up and asked if I was hurt. Only my pride.