(This was written a couple years ago when I worked at a coffee shop. 11-26-12)
A couple of days a week I work in a Coffee Shop. It is an interesting opportunity to watch all kinds of people and interact on a small level with them. This week I found my job especially challenging when my voice became hoarse. I struggled to greet the customers, ask the appropriate questions and bid them farewell as they left. By the end of the day I could hardly talk. I went home, drank tea and went to bed early. By morning my voice was completely gone. I didn’t feel bad. I simply had no voice.
I went back to work and made a sign that said…”My voice is gone”. Underneath I made a chart which enabled me to ask questions by pointing. (What size? Small, Medium or Large. What kind of milk? Skim, 2%, Whole or Soy) I also put a calculator on the counter so I could punch in what they owed and show it to them.
The reactions I got were to be expected.
First, “Why didn’t she say hello?”
After catching their eye I would point at my sign. Now, smiling, they understood.
The comments ranged from, “I’m so sorry, I hope you feel better” to “Every husband’s dream”. Some laughed as they interacted in a most unexpected way.
Thankfully Anna, who was the barista for the day, was very helpful in asking what I couldn’t. She kept the conversation going and answered the phone whenever it rang. Amazingly she also continued to talk to me. Her lip reading skills improved throughout the day and she was patient enough to read my hurried writing. It must have been frustrating for her, but she was good natured and talkative the whole day. (Thank you, Anna.)
Now for the unexpected result of my situation. Many of the customers quit using their voices to communicate with me. Maybe not entirely, but at least part of their interaction consisted of pointing, nodding, mouthing – “thank you” or simply giving me a thumbs up, as if to say “Good job”. Mind you, my ears were working fine. I’m not sure why they did it. Was it to sympathize with my situation? (I can’t use my voice or she’ll feel bad.) Or maybe something more basic. We become like those we are around. We imitate those we are with. If my interaction of 2-3 minutes with a customer was going to affect them enough for them to change their basic way of doing things, at least for a short time…hmmm.
So when I am having the kind of day when everyone I meet is crabby and out of sorts maybe the problem isn’t them. Maybe the problem is me. Maybe by purposing to smile, find the good and encourage others I’ll find the same in return. And maybe when I do run across the occasional bad egg who is having a bad day I can be the start of their day turning around.
Just a thought.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; Romans 12:10
Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Romans 12:14
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:21