Monday, January 23, 2017


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.



Unknown said...

I'm not big on the word 'duty", so my understanding is that it is my responsibility to be as present and competent as I can be in every interaction with a patient or family member. i have trouble forgiving myself when I feel I have not done my best...but I try to remember that I am human and mistakes happen and that as long as I am trying hard, that's all anyone can expect. When I expect perfection from myself, then I am being cruel to myself...a lifelong struggle.

ABEhrhardt said...

A gift from American poet Maya Angelou:

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

If you treat people as if they matter, they're going to remember you kindly.

No one remembers this about the current US president, because he doesn't believe it or do it = or there would have been stories about it.

Obama made a lot of people feel as if, just for that moment when they met, they were important to him. Queen Elizabeth is said to have the same gift.

The instinct to use it, to value the other person by default, is something to aim for. Some people have that built in to them.

mkbayes said...

Hello, my name is Mackenzie bayes, I am a first year DSW student. This was so powerful for me. It is something so small that can make someone feel so great. I feel very connected to this post, I always try my best to treat others the way I want to be treated. My dad taught me that the kinder you are to someone else, the bigger difference you can make in their life. I think this blog helped remind me that no matter who I am working with I should always presume competence in that person. People will always surprise you, I honestly believe that. I loved this post.