Lift each other up and change the world

When I went shopping at Target this morning, a Target employee―who was busily monitoring the checkout area, making sure things were neat and tidy and that traffic was flowing well―greeted me warmly and asked if I’d like a wipe for my cart, which I’d just pulled from the rack. I said, “Yes!”, thanked her, she wished me well, and off I went to do my shopping―reflecting on what a thoughtful greeting she’d given me.

Later, with my cart full and ready to check out, I watched as she moved between the checkout stands, evaluating the status of the lines and looking for an opportunity to keep things going smoothly. She came up to me and invited me over to an empty stand so she could wait on me, which I was grateful for.

As I emptied my cart, I told her what a great job she does, and she was surprised but very appreciative. I then detailed why I thought so―how she took care of me when I first came in, and how it was obvious she always had an eye on making sure everything was going smoothly and customers were treated well. She told me I’d made her day and that she would be flying high on these compliments for a long time. I said, “Good!” We then chatted about my plans for the rest of the day―sewing in particular (a mutual interest)―and I told her to look on the Internet for instructions on making soup bowl “potholders,” an easy sewing project.

When she came to a jacket I was buying, she stopped, pulled out her phone, and excused herself as she scrolled through it. She said she was sure there was a coupon for the brand I was buying, then apologized for taking so long. When she found it, she reduced the price of the jacket by 25%.

Her service was excellent, her demeanor was engaging, her thoughtfulness was above and beyond, and I made sure she knew how much I appreciated it. When I left, she thanked me for the sewing tip and I thanked her for taking care of me.

I hope she waits on me again — not because of the discount, but because of the great feelings she and I both felt by the time I left the store. She felt good for receiving such positive feedback on how she does her job (in the service industry, I fear this type of feedback is few and far between, but it shouldn’t be). I felt good for making her feel good. I think we both felt good just from having such a simple but rewarding and affirming connection. We both lifted each other up.

We are living in a very difficult and divided time in our country, in which feelings of helplessness to make a difference are pervasive and feelings of despair over our rancor toward each other can be demoralizing. But today, in this small incident, I felt my power to affect positive change. I lifted someone up―not with millions of dollars, not with a heroic effort in the face of adversity, but simply with a few words of praise for a job well done.

There are opportunities for us to lift each other up everywhere and every day, and I don’t mean through trite phrases like “have a nice day.” I mean through heartfelt appreciation that shows we notice and appreciate what others do, and who they are, and that it matters. Imagine the cumulative effect of each of us simply paying more attention, taking less for granted, and speaking up to express true appreciation and caring for each other.

Life-changing. World-improving. Powerful.

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