Little things make a difference

It was a normal day at work and I was trying to grab a bite at the crowded canteen. At about the same time I reached the counter, another worker too came nearby with his plate. Since I was furiously text-messaging, I didn’t notice that the canteen staffer ignoring him started serving me first. Looking up I felt bad at the discrimination. The preference was obviously because I was a white-collar working woman, while he was blue-collar maintenance man. I looked up flustered and apologetic at him. But the maintenance staffer was quite calm and smiled back reassuringly at me.

When my plate was loaded up, the canteen staffer handed it to me and started serving the other person. I thought I’d take a little sauce from the large bowl kept near the salt and pepper. But since a lot of people had already finished their lunch and left, there was very little sauce left in the large rectangular bowl. I was trying to scrape some of it onto my plate unsuccessfully; with the canteen staffer looking bored, indifferent and as if he couldn’t care less. I was just going to leave, when I noticed the maintenance staff person at my elbow. He kept his plate down and tilted the bowl so that the remaining sauce would flow to my end. I scooped some and thanked him with a smile. It was a very small thing. But it was a gesture of kindness. And it brought a smile to my face that stayed with me for the rest of the working day!

Everyday in my professional life, there are big acts of kindness and there are little acts of kindness. Sometimes its my boss or my team members rooting for me. Sometimes its a stranger from another department who took the time to make some job or project, just a tad bit easier for me. And I’ve noticed that kindness sticks out a mile. There was a lady, who worked in our mailroom, who was very meticulous about delivering our mail. She would ensure that packages were handed over only to the right person and even if the person wasn’t in office, she would call and confirm that it got delivered. Apart from being well-groomed and personable in appearance, the most noticeable thing about her was her smile. Her effervescent cheerfulness always used to make it a double bonus, when it came to receiving our mail.

So, when the office celebrated “Thank you Day” to appreciate the efforts of colleagues, the mailroom lady got nearly deluged in a flood of Thank You notes. This post in a way is a self-reminder to me – that it can be something as small as smile – that can make the difference! Cheers! And Happy Working!

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