This past summer, I would get up at 6:45 am every weekday to go to work. I would get in the shower, get dressed, put my makeup on, and be downstairs by 7:30. Still half asleep, I got on the train at 7:50 and usually ended up sitting next to the heavy-set woman with too much perfume. Sometimes I wondered if she deliberately doused herself with flowers to repel people. Several times I seriously considered buying some for myself. At 8:30 the train pulled into Suburban Station. From there I made a beeline for Starbucks. The line would already be out the door, but if I rushed, I could get my caffeine and still get to work before my boss.
There was only one thing that could turn my mood around – Ed. Ed was the mailroom clerk who delivered to my department. He came to work everyday with a smile on his face and always did his job to the best of his ability. I could tell that he was slow, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. Nevertheless, I always talked to him because I knew that few others did. They were afraid to talk to him because of his disability. Most of my coworkers would discretely walk into their offices and quietly close the door. If they were willing to sacrifice five minutes of their day to talk to Ed they would realize what an interesting person he was.
We would often talk about the weather, what we did the week before, and baseball. But it was his contagious smile that made me happy. By the end of these conversations, my mood was completely different. Ed taught me to always get to know people before forming opinions of them. My coworkers missed out on getting to know a very interesting person because they were afraid to talk to someone who was different. I believe that it is important to people for who they are, and in giving them the chance to show you.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.