Within the past few months or so, I have had some people suggest that I begin writing my own blog. These are all people who I’ve shared great conversations and experiences with…they are people I have connected with, and they are people I respect tremendously. So with that being said, I have decided to take them up on it. I have no idea where it will lead and I don’t know how often I will write, but I do think it’s time to start. I’ve always liked the saying, “If not now, then when? If not you, then who?” So here I go…right now, writing my first of (hopefully) many blogs.
#1: The Woman Behind the Counter
This first blog is dedicated to a woman who works at a sandwich shop I go to on a fairly regular basis. I don’t know her name…and I feel extremely awful about that because I should. I have ordered the same sandwich from her several times over the past year or so. How have I not taken one moment, less than a second even, to look up at her name tag and get her name. To remember an extremely important detail that will show her that I value her. She has memorized my very peculiar order of “a ton” of jalepeno and banana peppers, no cheese, veggies on it prior to the oven, followed by a thorough dousing of vinegar. This woman, who takes orders from countless people throughout her workweek, knows my exact order. And it’s not like I make a daily appearance at this place, or even a bi-weekly showing. And once I pay, a flurry of an exchange because I am in such a ‘rush’ to ‘hustle’ back and keep on top of my ‘busy schedule,’ (it’s not that serious, Sahar) I leave as quickly as I can because my car is still running. I take an opportunity that I had to not only interact, but connect, with another human being for granted. All of this finally hit me one day when I actually decided to stop my ‘frantic rush’ for a moment & simply look up…
…I walked in one week, looked up, and saw the person behind the counter. I feel like it’s almost become a rarity that we walk anywhere with our eyes up rather than on our phones, or the ground. And I am so thankful I walked in with my eyes up. With my eyes up, I saw a person and not a blob who knew my order without me saying a word. With my eyes up, I saw a young woman across the counter. With my eyes up, I was able to see her empty eyes and her face that showed stress, exhaustion, and sadness. An instant ping hit my heart as I realized I’ve never really taken the time to look up before…I realized I had never noticed this. How could I notice anything (or anyone for that matter) with my eyes locked down and my thoughts so consumed with me, myself, & I?
It hit me that I had probably missed out on several opportunities to look up and bring something positive to this woman many times before. And not just this woman, but so many other people I take for granted in my everyday life. People who I consider to be strangers; people who I don’t think are worth taking the time to look up and really notice because I’m too busy and self-consumed? An instant wave of guilt washed over me for this head down, tunnel-visioned person I had transformed myself into for so many people just like her who I take for granted. I have time to look up for my family, friends, colleagues, and players…who am I to treat anyone that falls outside of those categories any less by not giving them the human courtesy of acknowledgment, of simply taking a moment to look up?
So feeling as disappointed in myself I decided to change it right then and there. I took a breathe, smiled at the woman, and asked how she was doing. As she made my sandwich, my eyes were up and my heart was open (I’m a firm believer that we don’t just listen with ears, but with our eyes and with our hearts). I listened to her as she told me about how she “wished being good at something meant you loved it…and if that were the case, she’d love her life.” Caught off guard with her honesty, maybe it was the eye contact and smile that put her at ease to feel like she could share with me, I told her that she would ‘get through today and tomorrow would be better.’ I then took (not ‘grabbed’ like I normally would) my perfectly made sandwich as she said “See ya, Sahar.”
I was floored…after over a year of coming in with my head down, too ‘busy’ to look up at the person behind the counter, this woman knew my name! And the way she said those words, she might as well have said, “Thank you, Sahar. Thank you for looking up and listening. Thank you for giving me encouragement. I needed it.” I wonder how many people go through those doors every day with their heads down, so busy and caught up in their own hectic and self-centered world, that they fail to acknowledge the person behind the counter. So many people who miss out on the opportunity to not only interact with, but connect with those outside of their regular social circle.
That woman knows my sandwich order as well as my name…she has kept her eyes up for everyone who comes through that door. How do we not owe it to her, and to everyone for that matter, to do the same? So the next time you’re in a rush, running as many errands as you can squeeze in, I hope you are able to catch yourself…I hope you stop where you are, look up, and smile at the person behind the counter. I hope you are able to recognize the simple opportunity you have to not only interact, but to connect with someone who is waiting to connect with you.
When we look up, we open our eyes. When we open our eyes, we open our hearts. When we open our hearts, we connect. So take a moment to look up, with open eyes and an open heart…you won’t regret it.