Everyone is significant in your life…

… or at least deserves acknowledgement.

I last read this story years ago and I had quite forgotten about it until I re-read it earlier and decided to post it.  I realised I’d not forgotten it, so much as it has become a habit for me.

Life Lessons – The Cleaning Lady

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Amazingly, this even works for the beggars at your car window.  We pretty much have regulars around the traffic lights where I live and while I don’t know their names, I know their faces.  I used to just ignore them when they approached me and they would stand at my window with pitiful pleading faces for what seemed like forever until the traffic light changed. I always, inevitably felt uncomfortable.

Now I greet them.  I smile at them.  And when I tell them “I have nothing for you today.”, they bow graciously and thank me with the occasional ‘God bless you ma’am’ and walk away to the next person who will probably ignore them.  And I don’t feel bad for not having any money to give them, for I give them something else, an acknowledgement.

About Camilla

I once was a caterpillar but when I grew up I found I had the most beautiful wings.
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