This (short) story was originally published on Facebook, Nov 26th 2015.
It’s my forth thanksgiving in the US. Wow, time really does sneak up on you. If I look back at the past 12 months, I couldn’t in all honesty ask for more. Nothing is perfect in this world, and it’s frankly unreasonable to expect so, but really this was the best year of my life so far, doing the best work I’ve ever done so far, and what’s even more important: helping those around me doing the best work of *their* life so far. Yes, it’s always hard; yes, you always struggle; yes, you always want more… but you become better and better every week if you keep trying. And frankly that’s all that matters. This year, for a change, I want to share a story, a secret, and a promise.
The story is about something that happened to me around 10 years ago. At the time I was (among other things) a Radio Speaker, going on-air during the weekends with an entertainment show. It was lots of fun, so much so that when some years later one of the people in my team sent me one of the recordings, instead of sounding silly it still made me smile. It was also good, so much so that one of the contributors to the show went on and became one of the most talked-about VJs of the italian MTV (yep, the youngest won’t even know what I’m talking about, but back then it mattered… a lot). Still it was a small show in a relatively small radiostation, so I was alone that afternoon.
At some point somebody knocks on the door. It’s a homeless middle-aged woman, at least that’s what she appears to be at first sight. I’ve never been a big fan of giving pennies to homeless people, I prefer to give $1–10k to entrepreneurs I barely know (or I don’t know at all, in some cases… the reason why is a good topic for another conversation). So I wave my hand in front of her saying something like “no, sorry” and I close the door behind me. The song playing is almost at the end, so I go back to the mixer, I need to choose the following song that’s gonna play from the playlist. Then I suddenly freeze when I realize that the woman didn’t asks for pennies.
She was asking if I knew anybody around that could need her services to do the chores, in other words: she was asking for a job. And I wasn’t paying attention. Not only she was humbling herself in making what was a totally honorable request, but I was in a freaking Radio Station. I could have let her in, I could have dedicated 3 minutes of my well paid time, I could have let her tell her story, I could have potentially changed her life. But I didn’t, because I wasn’t listening. When I realized this I went back at the door, opened it and looked outside searching for her, but she was already gone. I remember this as if it was yesterday, it’s one of the most defining moments of my life.
Which brings me to the secret. Truth is: everybody is fighting for something, everybody has lost something, everybody is running from something, everybody is striving for something. Looking at someone and stopping at the first appearances is so easy and convenient, but that’s not the real story. Everybody has things to be ashamed of and to be proud of, everybody is going somewhere. The vast majority of the people don’t care, too focused on themselves, looking for what’s common between them and the others around them… but to me the most interesting part is what’s different, and hidden. That discovery is something special, something precious, something rare.
Which brings me to the promise. I will never ever let the episode from 10 years ago with that woman happen again, I will listen as best as I can, I will help any way I can. Regardless of the fact that I have nothing to gain from giving away my time, particularly then. If I made the smallest impact on you by doing so, it was well worth it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do something for you, I would be stoked if you did the same for someone around you… there’s so much to do in this world. And If I didn’t make any impact yet, not even the smallest one, I’ll try harder next year. This I promise. Happy Thanksgiving Day.