Today’s post was written by one of my English Composition II students, Crystal Riley, on the topic of the motivation of gratitude. I have known Crystal since junior high school. When God allowed our paths to cross again and for me to serve as her instructor, I felt truly privileged and have enjoyed watching her grow as a person and as a writer. I have learned at least as much from her as she has from me–isn’t this the beauty of teaching?
We all have had someone to wait on us and say thank you for your patronage. Have you ever really said thank you back to the person who waited on you in a way that was meaningful? In my life I have had several jobs that required me to wait on people. It is not a gratifying experience. Sometimes I wanted to say, “Here is your crap, please don’t come back!” I never did; I always took the time to force a smile and say thank you. I got so good at the routine that I caught myself sending off my unwanted family guests in the same way I thanked the unwanted customers who left the store.
There was an old man who came to the gas station every morning at 4:30. I made his coffee and waited on him every day. I thought he sat in that booth sleeping until his friends came in shortly after. All the old men would drink coffee and share stories. My shift ended at 7:00. Every morning just before I closed my drawer, he paid for his breakfast and told me I was a good ole’ girl or told me how good the gravy was. He always said something nice; he even commented on how well I had shined the floors! I never thought much of it. I always just thought he appreciated that I personally filled their cups instead of making them get up to get their own coffee. It was a small thing.
Later I worked at a video counter in the local grocery store and missed the old men from the gas station. One night my old man came in, and I waited on him and his granddaughter. He had been left to babysit. I helped them select a video, and as he was paying for it, he thanked me. He had a genuine smile and kind eyes. He patted my hand and told me he knew I was a nice girl. It is a crazy thing that the way he said thank you to me just made my day even if the praise didn’t come from my boss. I told him I just loved waiting on him and how nice he was. He responded that it costs nothing to let someone know that they are doing a good job, but it could mean the world to the person doing the job.
I thought about him often and what he said. I’ve had some of the worst jobs you could imagine, and I think about my co-workers at times, and how awful things are for them. I make it a point to say thank you when someone helps me, to take that extra moment to let them know I appreciate them.
It only takes a moment, and it may be the only kind word that person hears all day. If we all just take a moment to offer a word of encouragement or take a moment to simply be kind, we could all make a world of difference in how someone’s day goes. I never knew that old man’s name, and he never called me by my name, but I think about him because he was so nice, and his extra words of encouragement made my day nearly every day.