It’s not something everyone does, but when I’m out driving, whether running errands or heading to meet with a client, I listen to the radio. I’m one of those annoying radio control freaks who constantly changes the channel and only listens to commercials if there isn’t a better option. As I was driving yesterday I heard that it was National Sandwich Day. The radio personality said that he called a few sandwich shops in the city where he works (a major US city) to wish them a happy sandwich day. He went on to mention the name of a sandwich shop and said that they had hung up on him when he called and delivered his cheerful greeting. Yes, on a major radio station a deli was called out as a grumpy (which leads one to assume they’re not customer-friendly) business.
The other day while driving I heard another story of a little child who started up a conversation with a senior gentleman at the grocery store while she and her mom were shopping. She told the gentleman that it was her birthday and she talked to/with him for a few minutes and before heading on to do the rest of their shopping the girl asked if she could take a picture with the man. He agreed, and her mom posted it on Facebook. After seeing the post a friend of a friend shared that they knew the man and that the man’s wife had recently died and he’d been lonely and struggling to adjust. The mom reached out to the man through their mutual friends and since that incident they’ve had visits and the gentleman is now part of the little girl’s family.
Why do I share these 2 stories today? I share them because the differing reactions of the people really spoke to me. Sure, we can react like the deli did and shut people down because we think they’re rude or weird or making fun of us. Or we can choose to say even just a simple thank you “thank you” or do a little more and be willing to meet a new person and not just judge them for how they look, how old they are or a quirk they may have.
As you finish out this week I encourage you to take a breath before going with your initial reaction in situations that aren’t the norm for you (like in these 2 stories). Don’t just react and be a jerk or dismiss someone as silly or not important. That deli could have gotten great publicity, but instead they’re possibly losing business as a result of a snap judgment. There’s now another family learning from the wisdom that seniors have to offer and sharing the gift of being alive and enjoying life with each other across multiple generations. What will your reaction be today?