Yesterday, I had an early morning eye exam. It was snowing, hailing, and sleeting. I was 12 minutes late (I am often late). The receptionist greeted me like a mother would greet a spoiled teenager who missed her curfew.
“YOU’RE LATE!” she scolded.
“I am aware of THAT!” I replied.
In the spirit of a defiant, unruly adolescent, I explained that my delay was due to inclement weather (not true). She then handed me my punishment. I was told that I would have to wait for AWHILE, and that next time I should call if I know I am going to be late.
I was totally annoyed. I thought about leaning across the counter and slapping her - instead, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this was about her, not me, and I didn’t have to react to it.
"Best if I reschedule," I told her, "I call you when the weather warms up," (translation - when hell freezes over). I’m down to 3 days worth of disposable contact, so it wasn’t the best move on my part.
Regardless of what I told myself, I was clearly aggravated. I drove to the drugstore and picked up some contact solution. While waiting in the check-out line, I overheard the man next to me ask the cashier for directions to the bus stop. Without eye contact, she brusquely answered, “I don’t know.”
As he walked out the door, I noticed he was carrying a plastic Greenwich Hospital bag - a clear sign that he had just been discharged. I thought about offering him a ride, after all, it was snowing, hailing and sleeting - but he was a man, and he was wearing a hood, and he looked sort of creepy (not really). What if he was a mental patient or, what if he was a recovering drug addict? What if her robbed me, or killed me, or worse - snatched my sweet little shihtzu, Lucy that patiently waited in the car?
I watched him walk out the front door, and I exited through the back. I sat in my car, took a deep breath and asked myself, out loud, “What Do I Do?” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I remembered a recent request I made in a blog posts...
Please take the time to reach out to those who may be suffering. To listen, validate, comfort, and be present with them. Allow them to be vulnerable, honest, and awake; and engage them with hope.
I turned the corner just as he was heading down the Avenue. I pulled over and asked him if he’d like a lift. I explained to him that I had been standing in line next to him, and I apologized for not offering him a ride immediately. He hesitated, just for a moment, before accepting my offer.
Lucy greeting him warmly and he smiled at the sight of a 5 lbs dog wearing fur.
Neither of us knew where the bus stop was so, instead, I took him to the train. We sat outside the station and I listened as he explained that he had been in dialysis all week and that his younger sister has been going through dialysis for 7 years now, and how difficult it all was. He told me his legs felt very weak and how grateful he was for the ride. When he was done talking, he thanked me and went on his way, this time with a smile.
When I told this story to a dear friend, she commented, “It’s the domino effect. What would the poor man had done if you didn’t miss your eye appointment.”
Yes, its the domino effect. The Domino Effect of Giving - a linked sequence of events that are rooted in emotion, and grow from the heart.