The Opportunity of Every Interaction

He was just doing his job.

It was late in the evening. The work probably wasn’t his favorite thing to do. The job wasn’t that interesting or glamorous. But he showed up. He did what he was expected to do.

Our bathtub was clogged, and the water wouldn’t drain. The repairman worked away at clearing the block.

Half an hour later, I watched him clean up. His movements were slow and heavy. His shoulders drooped. He still bore a smile, but it didn’t hide his tiredness. It looked as though his day had been a full and busy one.

He was just doing his job. He didn’t need anything from me. I could have said nothing and let him go on with his evening.

But I had an opportunity to show compassion. I had the opportunity to give a small gesture of gratitude. So I walked to the kitchen, filled a glass with cold water, and handed it to him.

***

They were just doing their jobs.

The work was difficult and hard. The pay probably wasn’t that great. They may have wished they were doing something different. But they were there. They did what they were expected to do.

The outer brick on our apartment building needed repair. With electric grinders, the crew dug out the old, broken mortar and resealed the cracks with fresh mortar. It was a noisy and dirty job.

On my way into the building one afternoon, I passed the men as they took a break. Dust covered their clothes and skin — caking as it mixed with their sweat. They slumped as they sat together. The day was hot, and they looked worn out.

They were just doing their jobs. They didn’t need anything from me. It wouldn’t be unexpected if I didn’t say anything and went on with my day.

But I had an opportunity to show compassion. I had the opportunity to give a small gesture of appreciation. I walked past them without a word.

***

no other moment
only the one before you
what will you do with it

Every interaction offers us the same opportunity: the chance to show compassion.

Maybe our actions will make a difference — the consequences of our kindness rippling outwards. Or maybe they won’t. But either way, the opportunity still remains.

We can be the kind of people we wish to be. Or not.

***

She was just doing her job.

She could have made better money elsewhere. The work may have felt boring and repetitive. It wasn’t the most glamorous job. But she was there. She did what she was expected to do.

She took my order for lunch.

The night before had been a restless one. I hadn’t slept well. As I placed my order, my eyes kept wanting to close. She could see my tiredness.

She was just doing her job. She didn’t need to do anything for me. She could have said nothing and let me go on with my day.

But she had an opportunity to show compassion. She had the opportunity to give a small gesture of kindness. With a big smile on her face, she filled my order and wished me a wonderful afternoon.

I didn’t feel quite as weary anymore.

###

2 thoughts on “The Opportunity of Every Interaction”

  1. Thanks for the reminder to be on the lookout for those who need some extra encouragement, even ones who would never expect it from us. Too often we see people just doing their jobs, without remembering that they are people with feelings and needs.

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