Recently I had a couple of incidents that has got me wondering about how our actions affect others. Our interaction with people throughout our day can have a large effect on people whether we know it or not.
The first incident happened this past weekend. I was on St Joe’s Island getting ready to run the Mountain Maple 5 km race and I saw someone that I recognized. I immediately had a wave of negative emotions when I saw this particular individual. I honestly couldn’t remember his name (had to ask a friend who also knew him) but did remember he was a hockey parent from when I was involved with Sault Minor Hockey. You see this individual had stopped me a few years ago at a Greyhound game, right in front of the Hound Pound store. He came over, shook my hand and started to congratulate me but it didn’t take long for me to realize he was being 150% sarcastic. He then started to loudly berate me for some decision we in Minor Hockey had made.
I couldn’t tell you what decision we made that pissed him off so badly but I can sure remember how I felt when he was berating me. I remember walking away feeling somewhat embarrassed for both of us and wondering for the millionth time why I volunteered my time. It was only a few seconds of my now 57 plus years but it had enough of an impact that it instantly brought back negative memories.
The other recent incident was of the positive kind. Out of the blue I got a message from a guy who worked with us on a temporary basis about 5 years ago. He worked out of our London shop but came up north to work with me and help me during a ten day maintenance run across North Western Ontario. I guess his Facebook account brought up some memories from our trip so I am assuming he got to thinking about that trip. In his message he thanked me for “treating him like a human being on that trip”. Now, what does that mean, I’m not 100% sure, but I know I certainly treated him the way I would have like to have been treated. He didn’t have a lot of radio experience so during the trip I tried to show him what I could, when I could. We also had some interesting conversations for an old guy and a young fellow during which we found a mutual like for the same music. In the end we shared a couple stories, some jokes (about a small village called Blackhawk and the radio icon "The Champ"), and I remember the truck tranny developing a leak and us being on the side of the road south of Wawa waiting for a tow truck and our ride back to the Soo.
I don’t think I treated him any differently than I do most people. Now this wasn’t “a moment” but rather a longer period of time in which we could have had many negative and positive moments. I’m just happy that those collective moments turned out to be a positive memory for him. As a result its a feel good for both of us.
Now I know we’ve all had bad days which can lead to our bad moments. In hindsight, out of the many moments I am not proud of, I can remember a couple of years ago going through the DQ drive-thru and it was taking forever to get our order. I kind of snapped and let the person working there know I wasn’t happy. In their defence I now think that they may have been having a bad day, they could have been a new employee or they may have been short staffed. Point is, I didn’t know what they were going through. I may have made a bad day even worse for them.
There is an expression that’s says it doesn’t cost anything to be kind. Say hello, say please, say thank you, hold the door for someone, say have a good day even if the other person is being a rude idiot. These all require minimal extra effort. If you are having a bad day I bet these actions will even help you feel better. Remember a few seconds could have a lifetime of impact on your love ones, coworkers, acquaintances or a complete stranger.
Remember that feeling.