There is a small convenience and news store that I like and when I'm nearby I always pop in to buy my lottery tickets. It's very small and yet there is room for me to move around in so I can be in front of where the trays of scratch and (usually) lose tickets are kept in big trays. If there are people in the store I don't attempt to get in front of the tickets, the store is simply too small and people move so erratically that I might accidentally cause hurt.
In those times where it's too busy for easy entry I pull up beside the cash register and the fellows who work there pull the big trays out from under their protective shield and hold them over for me to pick out tickets. Typically I ask them to just pick tickets and to not bother bringing out the tray. Usually they agree and grab a few of what I ask for. But yesterday I pulled up and asked for a few of the scratch tickets and asked him to just pick them for me. It was a new fellow and he said that no, he'd get the tray. He said that part of the fun was picking the tickets and he didn't want me to miss out on that.
He held out the tray and I went about picking out tickets. I joke with him saying, "How's your arm holding out?" He smiled and said that he was fine. After a pause, he said, "It is my privilege to serve customers and my duty to do that with kindness." I had finished picking the tickets and he put the tray back. I paid for the tickets and wished him a good afternoon. He did the same.
I looked up "duty" to find out exactly what it meant. Several meanings were given but two were:
- a moral obligation
- something you feel is the right thing to do
As always, in these kinds of moments, I thought about the work that I do with people with intellectual disabilities. Do I always remember that it is a privilege to serve them and that it is my duty to do so with kindness? Do I always remember privilege and duty when it comes to how I do what I do? I'm not sure that I do. I think sometimes it's a job, sometimes its a job that I love, sometimes it's a bit more than a job, it's a privilege that comes with a duty.
I left that store feeling respected and cared for by a stranger, someone I've never met before, and, that felt good. Really good.
Maybe if I remember how it feels to be served with kindness, I'll remember that that's how I can make someone else feel.