I was stumbling the other day and came across one of those ubiquitous lists of Rules for Life. You know, the ones that are kind of funny and meaningful at the same time, and that get e-mailed to you about every other week. I was chuckling through the list when one of them actually made me stop and think, which is something I don't do anywhere near enough. The rule was this:
"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."
I did some looking and found that this is a quote, attributable to humorist Dave Barry. It's definitely a great point and seems simple enough, but it made me consider how I really treat the "invisible people" around me. By "invisible," I mean the people that pop in and out of your day in various roles that, while critical, go largely unnoticed by the average person.
I used to have a family friend who, whenever she was at a restaurant, was an absolute terror to the wait staff. It didn't matter what she ordered or how quickly it was brought, she was always dissatisfied. This upstanding church member and highly trained educator would cajole, shout, belittle, gripe, grouse, complain and make an all around ass of herself, much to the embarrassment to all around her. I doubt that she had any clue at all what others thought of her in this regard, and I doubt that she would care if she knew.
Here's the thing: whether the person on your periphery is a waitress or waiter at a restaurant, the clerk at your local gas station, or a person working in the same building as you who you see in the hallway a couple times a week, that person, for all intents and purposes, is you. What do I mean by that? Simply that to countless masses, you are just some anonymous human that some other very important individual may or may not notice while he or she is on his or her important way to doing important things. My point is this: we're all important, and we're all nobodies. But if we treat others like they matter -and they do- it makes life just a little bit better for them and, in turn, for us.
So take an extra couple of seconds out of your busy, very important day to get to know the name of that unnamed person who greets you at your local mega discount store. Tell that person your name. It might just make his or her day. Your life will be enriched, too, I promise you. Oh, and leave a big, fat tip at the restaurant.
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato