Wednesday, October 20, 2010

time has its own way of showing what's important

Twice this week, I have been reminded that time is precious, especially when you give it to someone else. In both cases, I started out tired and cranky about being delayed finishing work and getting out the door. In both cases I learned that the inconvenience is minor, compared to the reward.

By day's end Monday, I couldn't wait to get home. I had awakened at 5am and started work at 7am to finish a project before driving to a 9:30am meeting (Who plans meetings at 9:30 on a Monday?) I had squeezed a dentist appointment into my lunch break and finally found time to eat lunch at 3. By 4:45, I could think of nothing but, "I should have left half an hour ago!"

At the rec centre where I work all of the seniors had gone home and the main office was closed. Only a few people drifted through the lobby past my office doorway, on their way to the library. As I sat at my desk, trying to take care of a few inescapable tasks, and make brief notes of the stuff I needed to tackle the next day, there was a tap at my door.

It was Henry. He's one of our seniors, who comes with his wife to play bridge once a week. He asked me when he could ask the ladies who make the crafts to take something from the display case so he could come back tomorrow and buy it from them. I told him I could get whatever he wants, and hold it for him until he could come back to pay for it. He replied that he had money now. He hadn't known that I could get something for him. Would I possibly get a pair of baby boots out of the case? Of course I would.

We walked down the hall and he waited, while I got the keys and money pouch out of the safe, and unlocked the display case. Henry wanted a tiny pair of blue knit baby boots. I asked him if he was expecting a grandchild. Of course he was. It will be Henry and his wife's first grandchild. I asked him if he knew for sure he needed blue boots and he beamed, yes, for sure. We chatted for a few minutes about his son and daughter in law, who live in Calgary, how excited everyone is for the birth, and Henry and his wife's plans to visit their children and grandson after the birth. He paid me $4. I locked the display case and returned the keys and pouch to the safe and said good-bye and congratulations. I smiled for about half an hour after that, and was not in nearly as much of a rush to finish up and leave.

Today I was wiped out, after a crazy busy day, including a special event for 50 new members and the packing up of everything we need for the next few days from a room that will be under construction for the next few days. Again, I was sitting at my desk, past time to go home, still grabbing a few things that couldn't wait until tomorrow, and getting them done. Again, there was a tap at my door. Nina was there.

Nina is a lovely lady who plays bridge and snooker at the rec centre. When I first met her, she spoke barely any English, or was too shy to speak barely anything, I'm not sure which. Over the 3 years I have known her she has warmed up a bit. She is still very quiet, but with a radiant smile whenever we greet one another in the hallway or the snooker room. This time she spoke, and asked me if I had seen a bag "with vegetables" in the lobby. It seems that she had left her grocery bag in the lobby by accident some time ago, and it had disappeared.

The upper office was closed so I asked her if she had checked at the downstairs desk, where we keep lost and found items. She shrugged, smiled and walked away. I thought to myself, "It's just a bag of vegetables, but that's probably the food that Nina was planning to cook for supper." I got up, locked my office and went downstairs to see if I could help her. I couldn't find her, so I asked at the desk. Nobody had turned in a bag of vegetables. Nobody had seen Nina. I came back upstairs, and there was Nina again, talking to our afternoon janitor, who was helping her look for the vegetables. She suggested that they might have been put away in the staffroom refrigerator.

I asked Nina to come with me, and we walked over to the office. I told her to please wait, I'll look for the vegetables in the office, and if they're not there, we'll check the fridge. Sure enough, there was a bag of vegetables on top of the filing cabinet. (who puts vegetables on the filing cabinet?) "Oh! Nina!" called, "I see a zucchini! broccoli!" The vegetables were hers, of course, and she was visibly relieved. For the first time today I was met with her beaming smile. I wished her a good supper and a nice evening and she left, with her vegetables.

Sometimes, when I'm stuck thinking that I'm swimming upstream, someone comes along who asks me to pause in a way that I just can't decline. I resolve to pay more attention to these situations, and find the gift that comes with them. A delay is okay, and sometimes provides a much needed re-set when I need it.

question: have you stopped to smell the speed bumps lately?

mompoet - still learning

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