You never quite know what you’ll see on a walk.
It was a summer day, and I was headed to lunch in downtown Chicago. Along the sidewalk stood a row of trees. A light breeze blew and sent leaves flying into the air. They spun and twisted, shimmering in the sunlight.
Beneath the trees was a man standing outside of a McDonalds restaurant. He wore what appeared to be a standard work uniform – an apron, a McDonalds’ hat, and a white button-down shirt.
With a broom and dustpan, he swept up the leaves in front of the store. But the breeze was blowing too hard, and the leaves were falling too fast. For every leaf he picked up, ten more took its place. His task was futile.
Strange, I thought as I walked by. What was he trying to do? Why?
Maybe McDonalds has some ridiculous policies. In an effort to make sure everything is clean and tidy, they require their staff to keep the sidewalk clear.
The man got the unlucky draw that day. He had to go outside and do yet another meaningless task – all because someone making more money than he was thought it was a good idea.
Who cares whether the task is impossible or not? It’s his job.
Maybe the man was using the task as an excuse to get outside. He’d spent the whole morning in the stuffy restaurant. His stomach churned from smelling nothing but grease. Fresh air sounded like heaven.
But he was on duty. It wasn’t his scheduled break time. So he conveniently found a task that let him be outside. Who cares whether the task was pointless. He was working. He was looking busy.
Maybe the man was obsessed with having clear sidewalks. He was determined that they should be clean and neat. Everything in life should be tidy. Everything should be orderly. How dare nature make things so messy!
So outside he went, armed with a broom and dustpan to wage war against the chaos. He would hold to his crusade, even if it was a lost cause.
Maybe it wasn’t about clearing the sidewalk at all. The week before, a coworker snuck some french fries in his backpack. The smell had lasted for days.
It was time to get back at that person. She was obsessed with having everything clean. Yes, something with leaves would do nicely..
Maybe he wasn’t even a McDonalds employee. He could have just been there sweeping in uniform for no other reason to make the company appear ridiculous.
it’s all in your head
When we see someone or assess a situation, it’s easy to come up with a storyline. But that story is just a guess. It’s our imagination. And while we may be decent at imagining some of the time, often, that story is wrong or incomplete.
Without further information, we can’t know for sure what happened. Anything is possible.
So hold your judgments and perceptions lightly. Recognize that they are in your imagination. Remember they may or may not be true. Then when you get new information, you’ll be more open to it.
I never did find out what the man was really doing or why he was doing it. Do you have a better idea?