I was at the drive-thru for Panera the other day, and I am exhausted. I have had a long day and am at the “hangry” stage where I am grumpy from being hungry. I order a sandwich and soup, and my favorite cookie only to get to the window to be told that cookie, which I have been craving, is no longer available.
I was disappointed, but hey, it is only a cookie. Somehow, the woman working the drive-thru lane went over and above with offers of other options and with a demeanor that made my day. Before I even took a bite of my food, that little interaction was somehow the best part of my day, when I was not ready for it. I was stressed and struggling, and that moment turned my day around.
Think of this interaction…In a space where I was disappointed in not receiving something I was hoping for, somehow the person made me feel way better than any food item could have done that time. I needed that.
One person and one interaction in about 30 seconds made my day exponentially better than what it was. My gut feeling is that I was not the only person who felt that in the day from the drive-thru interaction with this person.
Only a few days later, I was at the end of a long week, and I was exhausted and missing my daughter. It was Friday morning, and I felt that I could not make it through a day. I usually play music before workshops to create a more enthusiastic for the start of the day for myself and the group, but today, it was doing nothing. As I am sitting there, a participant who I had not known had come over to me and said I just made her day by playing Milli Vanilli. I immediately perked up, and we started talking about the band and how much we both loved them! Another 30-second interaction, from a stranger, and it was exactly what I needed to give me the energy to start the day.
These two strangers through simple acts of kindness had made my day. I don’t know if either of them could tell I was struggling, but I don’t think it would have mattered to either of them. They brought a light into my day when I needed it most. It reminded me of this Emerson quote:
In the context of education, a welcome in the office or an acknowledgment in a hallway can have the same impact on a student or colleague that this interaction had on me. A “hello” in the hallway could be a moment to you but stick with a child forever. I think about this all of the time.
I am working to have the same effect on others. Sometimes doing this is harder than others, but I always try to err on the side of positive, and learning from these strangers is something will stick with me for a very long time.
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