It’s just that sometimes we forget or don’t even realize the impact we have. The impact we could have.
In our role as business leaders, as family and community members, each of us has the opportunity to affect others in simple, yet powerfully positive ways.
Like Mr. Parsons, Mr. Lewis and others did in the story below.
Art, Ryan and I rode the train from the Atlanta airport to the Peachtree Center Station.
We asked an attendant for directions to our hotel. His name was Mr. Parsons. As he gave us directions, he walked with us down one escalator, through the subway area and then up another escalator. It was a long walk. There was time for him to tell us a little history about the area, tell us about some interesting spots to visit and even talk a bit about sports. We asked where we could get a route map for the train. “I just happen to have one right here,” he said as he pulled one from his pocket and gave it to us. When we got to the top of the last, and very long escalator, he pointed out our hotel and waved us off with good tidings, telling us to be very careful as we crossed the busy intersection.
Four hours later, we were on our way to ESPN Zone. As we entered the station again, there he was. When he heard where we were going, he said, “Oh, the map tells you to get off at the Buckhead station, but I think it is much better to get off at the station right before and then take the 23 bus. It is a much shorter walk, which may be easier for him,” pointing to Ryan who was 11 at the time. Very grateful, we headed off with our instructions.
“What a nice man,” I said to Art and Ryan. “It’s almost like he’s an angel. Even though the station is huge, he is always there when we arrive.”
Sure enough, on our way home, when we entered the station, there he was, asking about our trip to ESPN Zone, thrilled to hear that “the little guy” had enjoyed his visit.
I told him that we felt like he was an angel, and he laughed and beamed with pride. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
The next day, New Year’s Eve, I went to Macy’s. The place was packed with shoppers drawn in by the holiday sale plus parade spectators who, unprepared for the cold temperatures, crowded into the store for temporary warming and to purchase hats and gloves for their return to the toe-chilling temperatures. Long lines of impatient looking customers stood at the cash registers. The sales clerks looked harried.
When I made my selections and went to the cash register in the housewares department, the stresses of the day were all over the face of the sales clerk. Trying to be sensitive to how she must be feeling, I tried to be extra nice and friendly. She went about the transaction rather matter of factly. Then she looked up, her face brightened as she said, “Mr. Lewis!” She gave him a big hug. They chatted for a minute. He knew she was busy, said good-bye and waved.
Her entire demeanor had changed. She enthusiastically told me about Mr. Lewis. “He has been retired for 30 years. And for the entire 30 years, he has wandered around spreading cheer and just making people happy.”
He had obviously done that for her.
She added, “He’s been coming in here every day for 30 years”.
“Sounds like an angel,” I said.
She looked at me pensively, smiled and said, “Yes – just like an angel”.
She happily finished my order. As I headed for the exit with bag in hand, I found Mr. Lewis in the children’s department, laughing and talking with another sales clerk. Then he moved on, making “his rounds”.
On New Year’s Day, I was sitting and waiting for someone in the lobby of our hotel. It was the first time in 3 days that the lobby had been quiet.
I was chatting with the bellman, who was enjoying his first quiet moment in some time. His name was Antwon, a man in his early twenties. I asked him what the busy times were like for him. He said he liked it that way…that he liked having lots to do.
Having heard him interacting with some very rude customers earlier in the day, I told him I admired the way he had handled the situation and asked him how he managed to stay calm. He laughed and said, “I get lots of practice. A lot of customers are rude. “It is especially hard when they start cursing”, he said.
“How do you do it then?” I asked.
“I try to just rise above it. I figure if I be nice to them, then maybe it will make their day better. And maybe later they will think about it and be nicer to the next guy.”
It made me think again about angels.
make an angel. We all laughed as he, covered in snow, tried to get up without messing it up.
Behind our laughter was the peacefulness that comes with new fallen snow.
I felt blessed to have encountered so many angels in such a short time.
Each one shared a message of joy, care, wisdom or peace. Each was a good reminder of the small ways in which we can powerfully and positively affect one another.
May you enjoy the presents and presence of many angels throughout the year.
Yes – let there be angels everywhere.