Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Invisibles

How many invisible people pass through your life each day?

I'm talking about people like the cleaning lady at your office, the lawn man who works on your yard, the busboy who clears off the table where you know, the people you see but don't ever acknowledge. How many?

Have you ever noticed that these people walk all around us and amongst us on a daily basis, yet they are rarely addressed by anyone?

There's a young, humble hispanic man who works at my gym, cleaning the equipment. He zips in and out of the sweaty 'monied' crowd while they work off their overabundance, and no one ever acknowledges or speaks to him. It's like he's invisible. And he does seem so out of place -- he's very hispanic, quite possibly an illegal, and I'd be surprised if he spoke any English. To make matters worse, the poor chap has a problem with one of his turns in and is quite possibly blind. I see this fellow 2-3 times a week as I work out, and I often think how lonely his life might be, working daily among people who don't even see him. Quite frankly, the looks of this chap might scare a small child. I can't imagine that he gets a good reaction from the world, since society is so darned visual. And I think, how sad that must be. So what do I do? I go out of my way to smile at the fellow and say hello, every time. That's it, nothing more. He always bows his head at me in acknowledgement when he sees me, and I often think perhaps I might be the only one who lets him know he's not invisible. And maybe, just maybe, that makes his day just a tiny bit better.

Every night in my office when I get ready to leave, a Polish immigrant woman comes in with her trash cart to clean the office. No one acknowledges her. She goes about, entering our offices, picking up trash, tidying things up, and no one speaks to her. Except me, of course. I always make a point to make eye contact, smile at her, say hello and ask how she's doing. And now, she seems to light up when she sees me, knowing that I always have a smile for her, when others see right through her. I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, I've helped to make her job a little easier and her day a tiny bit better. And isn't that what it is all about?

I have always made it a point to acknowledge people who seem to be on the 'lower wrung' of society's caste system. I don't care what a person's role is in society, we're all human and we all have value, and while I'm not likely to put the 'invisibles' into my rolodex and call them up for dinner, I absolutely think they deserve a smile and a hello, just like everyone else.

So try it....look your busboy in the eye the next time he cleans off your table and say 'hello' and smile. See what happens. It might make his day. And it might even make yours.

When God gives you blessings, share the wealth.


Anonymous said...

I do this too! I always smile and thank the waiters when they take my plate and I also say hi to the lady who cleans our bathrooms and the guy who comes round to clean the office at night and the concierge on my way in and out of the building.

I've always firmly believed that you have to treat everyone fairly and with respect as they are just the same as us with the same thoughts and feelings.

Miss Forthright said...

Lovely post, M. I agree, it doesn't take much to be polite and warm to people you come in to contact with.

Miss Forthright said...

Lovely post, M. I agree, it doesn't take much to be polite and warm to people you come in to contact with.