I believe you should always notice someone’s name . This belief was born when I was 14 years old and working at my neighborhood Publix. Day after day I dealt with my regulars, there was the scatter brain soccer mom, whose children paraded through the store throwing chips and cookies in her cart, the elderly grandmother who always asked me , “habla espanol?” and of coarse, my favorite, the 78 year old Lebanese Priest who would always throw his pennies at me. I hated my job, but on one Saturday I decided to switch things up and memorize everyone’s name. I knew this would be a daunting task, and the thought did cross my mind that these individuals would think I ‘m a bit creepy, but hey, I was 14, bored and needed to find a way to have fun at work. The regulars came in, and after awhile I discovered that the soccer mom did have a name, her name was Wendy, and she was a foster mom. The grandmother ‘s name was Amelia and she was an Argentinean immigrant. But my favorite was Amir. I remember seeing him dressed all in black and wearing a gigantic cross around his neck. He slammed his usual groceries on the conveyor belt, the tahini, pita bread and green peppers. “Marhaba Amu” I greeted him in Arabic. His face lifted and he looked at me, “How do you know I speak Arabic?” I continued to tell him that Tahini was a middle eastern ingredient, and that ‘s how I figured out his background. After I scanned everything it was time to pay, he ripped his check out and I noticed his name, Amir. Walking away I yelled “Salam mu alaykum Amir,” and he threw two pennies, one nickel and a dime at me. The next week appeared and Wendy, Amelia both went out of there way to say hello to me, “Hi Bianca, its nice to see you.” I must admit the fact they noticed my name made me smile. Then Amir appeared, he was wearing the usual black outfit and his groceries remained the same, tahini, pita bread and a green pepper. “Shukran Habibi Bianca” he thanked me, for what reason I had no idea. But I did notice that he went out of his way to say my name. I asked him what he was referring to, he never responded, but that day he did not throw any change at me. I must admit it made me happy that I did not have to dodge flying change and it was refreshing that the angry old priest said my name.
Noticing a persons name may sound small in the grand scheme of things, but its deeper than just saying a name, once it sinks in it becomes habit. Every time I saw Amir, he told me a bit more about himself, and he always ended things with, “Shukran Habibi Bianca.” My very last Saturday working at Publix went by quickly, at five o’clock it was time for me to clock out and there was Amir, he was standing with two Ziploc bags full of change. He handed the bags to me and walked away. Inside the bags was a note. It read, “ Marahaba Habibi Bianca, I have been saving these coins for you. I hope one day this change can get you something nice. Thanks for knowing me. Shukran Habibi Bianca.”
Knowing someone’s name is an opportunity to make a connection. Noticing someone’s name shows that for the three seconds you were the center of someone’s universe.
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