Several years ago I worked as the resource development coordinator for our local nursing home. My job was to create projects which made the community aware that there were people inside the building that needed attention. I ordinarily did not communicate directly with the residents of the home, but worked on their behalf.
One morning, on the way to the copy machine, I learned a very important lesson that stuck in my mind as if it happened yesterday. I walked right past a female resident sitting in her wheelchair in the hall. As I put my hand on the doorknob to the copy room an invisible something or someone stopped me in my tracks. I went back to the woman and said, “good morning”. Her face lit up as if I had given her a million dollars.
In the talks I gave to community groups I often related this story to point out how little effort it takes to make someone happy. I believe honestly taking the time to recognize another person’s existence is the most important gift we can give. The cruelest act is to completely ignore someone as if they did not even exist.
Our local Wal-Mart has been going through a major renovation, leaving customers and employees so confused nobody knows where anything is. I have watched many people display anger at the situation, often taking it out on the checkers. I began intentionally letting employees know that I recognize how hard it is for them to work under these conditions. I get a lot of smiles in return for my effort.
How often do you walk through your day so intent on what you are doing that you don’t even speak to another person? Wives do you really see who your husband is beyond the paycheck he brings home? Husbands do really see who your wife is beyond the dinner plate she puts in front of your face. Parents do you really see your children beyond what you expect them to do to carry out your plans for them?
I believe part of the problem with the world today is nobody communicates. Adults don’t talk because they are just too busy. Kids don’t talk because they are constantly plugged into a mechanical device of some kind. Maybe we should put the whole world in a really big room and not let them out until they learn to recognize their fellow beings and speak to one another again!
How about just for today you let your "invisible person inside" out and make a real effort to notice the people around you?