Monday, December 31, 2007

Kindness Pays... Part I

There was a wonderful story in the news this week about a waitress who did something she didn't have to do, and was richly rewarded for it. This cafeteria waitress in Texas had a cranky customer for nearly 7 years. The man was pretty mean to her, although she always did her best to serve him well and make sure everything was to his liking. She never received any positive feedback from the man. His response, no matter what she did, was always negative and somewhat nasty.

Some might have been nasty back to the man. This waitress, although she didn't enjoy the mean man's treatment, she never 'dished it back.' She simply did her job and tried her hardest to address the man's complaints. We might not know her motivations, but the outcome was that she treated this man with respect, even though that is NOT how he treated her.

No one was more suprised than she was to learn that upon this man's death, he had left her $50,000 and a car in his will!

He never even seemed to like her! No matter what she tried, he didn't seem to be impacted. And yet, he was obviously touched by her kindness. Her 'feedback' was delayed, but boy... did she get some feedback!

I LOVE this story! This woman did the right thing. That's the most important point to the tale. Even if she hadn't received the huge inheritance, she could rest well, knowing that she returned kindness for meanness. She didn't know the impact she had on this man. She might have been the only kindness in his days. Without the inheritance, she would have never known that, but it wouldn't have made her actions any less meaningful.

We touch people each and ever day in positive ways, and unfortunately, in negative ways. We may never know the impact we have on others, but I believe we ALWAYS have some impact, even in the slightest of interactions.

I once heard it said that we all leave a 'jet stream' behind us as we fly through our lives. Remember the white trails in the sky that jet liners sometimes leave in their wake? I like this image. As we move through life, we leave an energetic trail, of sorts. Everyone we come in contact with is touched by what we think, say and do.

I think it is a worthy goal to endeavor to affect people positively as much as possible. It's a great undertaking. Simple, but far from easy.

We can remember this story of the waitress, to know that often, even if it appears someone doesn't appreciate us treating them with kindness and respect, they might actually being touched (and possibly transformed) by our behavior. Trusting in this dynamic can motivate us to behave better towards other people, even if we don't get the same in return.

I'm delighted that this waitress did what she did, so that many of us could be inspired by her actions. Not that we want to be motivated by reward! That would be missing the point. Her reward, however, helps us know that actions, even seemingly unappreciated ones, do have deep meaning.

I have another story to tell that relates to this one. I'll get to it later this week. Stay tuned!! :)

Here is a link to the Newsweek article about this wonderful happening: Man leaves $50,000, car to waitress.

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