When I walked into Starbucks this morning my coffee was sitting on the counter waiting for me. With a smile the barista pushed it towards me.
“This is for you,” he said.
After working for an hour another regular walked over.
“How are you doing today?”
I gave him a pat answer and asked about his current project. He replied, and turned the question back on me.
“But, you, what’s really new with you?”
At the donut store two weeks ago, I handed over the two coffee thermoses that I’d borrowed for a mother’s group event. The store manager handed me my $50 deposit and a small white bag.
“What’s this?” I asked, meaning, “Why are you giving me something?”
“It’s a carrot muffin,” was her simple reply.
The only thing these people have in common is the fact that I see them on a semi-regular basis. We interact over simple common courtesies.
Please. Thank you. Are you using this chair?
I could have chosen to keep my interaction to the bare minimum, but at some point I looked them in the eye and asked them about their day, their weekend, their kids. I connected beyond the simple societal niceties.
They looked back at me, away from their busy tasks and connected.
We all make a million superficial connections throughout the day – the grocery store, the sandwich shop, the gas station attendant. We can chose to float through our days without really interacting with people, or we can choose to deepen our connections with people and life.
That cashier is a person.
That barista deals with life’s ups and downs just like you.
That gas station attendant has hopes and dreams.
I grew up in a world where social “castes” (for lack of a better word), are strong and hard to breach. It was rare for me to socialize outside my group of friends. And then, thanks to the Internet, I expanded my reach.
Income, location, education – none of these things define a person’s heart. When you put people behind a computer and you talk to them before seeing their clothes, their hair, their home, you get to know them for who they really are at heart.
Even better, it allows you to see beyond the uniform, beyond the surface out in the real world.
Who did you interact with today? Did you stop to wonder about their morning routine? Their challenges for the week?
Who do you see every day? What do you know about that person?
Step outside of your life. Reach out to the people who share your space. It will enrich your life.
It’s enriched mine and I’m a better person for it.