One birthday not too long ago a friend of mine bought me a limousine ride to a restaurant for a nice lunch. The ride was about twenty five minutes from my office so my friend and I got to talk a while in the back, look at the scenery, and have a glass of wine. It was a really nice ride. I am not much of a limo riding kind of guy. In fact I’ve only been in a limo twice outside of the ones that take you from the church to the gravesite. So this ride was pretty special.
When we got to the restaurant, the limousine driver held the door to let us out, and said that he would be waiting at the door upon our return. As I was walking toward the restaurant a thought crossed my mind, and I turned back to the car, knocked on the driver’s window, and as he rolled down the window I asked, “What would you like for lunch?”
The driver’s eyes widened and didn’t say anything at first. When he finally spoke, the only words that came from his mouth were “excuse me?”
I said, again, “What would you like for lunch?”
He looked at me and, slowly, he said “a sandwich?”
So I asked him “what kind would you like?” He said “Turkey, please.” This went on for a few seconds. I asked him what kind of bread, if he wanted mayonnaise, that kind of thing.
Finally, I just came out and asked him, “Has anybody ever asked you if you wanted lunch before?” He said “No, no one has. And frankly, this gives me goose bumps.”
I ordered his sandwich first, ran it out to the limo, and then sat down with my friend for our lunch. When we got back in the limo, I asked that the divider from the driver’s seat to the back be opened. Then I asked him about his job. “How many hours do you spend it a car? Does your back hurt from sitting so long? Where do you park the limo when it’s time to go home?” “What happens when you really have to go to the bathroom?”
What I have found is that so many people around us, while doing their jobs, become a little bit invisible. Think about it. The bus drivers, garbage men, landscapers, housecleaners, gas station attendants…the list is vast. So many people work in a sense of anonymity throughout their lives. They go very much unnoticed. But they are one of us. They are people on the same walk through life as we are. The man that landscapes my office has had a liver transplant and can’t drink caffeine. The woman that cleans my office has an amazing knowledge of indoor plant life. The young man at the gas station has completed one year of college but has to work because his Mom’s sick. Their names are Manny, Maria, and Leo. And they are dear, wonderful people and have made my life better by their presence.
Ask the people you see every day how they feel doing their jobs. Get to know them a little better. Talk to them as if you were talking to somebody you know well. Give them a few minutes of conversation. The world of those you love will have grown by one more.