"This may not mean much to you," Brian* began, "but it meant the world to me." Then Brian told the story of how a friend's small gesture spoke of his care for Brian.
Brian and Larry* carpooled to a meeting. Upon returning to the drop-off spot, Larry opened the door to let Brian out of the car. Watchful, Larry remained outside of his car until Brian was safely on his way. Brian is enjoying his seventh decade, but is quite able-bodied. Larry's actions were not necessary, but greatly appreciated.
Contrast that to Marcy's* experience, "I couldn't believe no one stopped to ask if we were OK. The other cars just kept honking at us because we were in their way." Marcy and two of her children were at a red light when they were rear-ended and sent hurling into the oncoming traffic's left turn lane. The man who hit Marcy's car was late for baseball practice. He insinuated the accident was her fault because she slowed for the yellow light instead of speeding through it. The impact totaled Marcy's vehicle, leaving its rear under the back passengers' compartment.
Larry took a few minutes out of his day to ensure the safety of a friend. Strangers were in such a hurry they didn't even notice Marcy's dire situation, but impatiently signaled their annoyance that she was in their way. A man distracted by his schedule blamed Marcy for his carelessness.
Our world is a busy place. Often we are running at breakneck speed. Why? As I look at my schedule, I need to consider how my activities are benefiting me and what they are costing me. A good litmus test is how I respond to strangers, friends, family, clients and coworkers when they interrupt my day. Am I compassionate, taking a moment to see if there is a need I can meet, or am I perturbed that they have cost me a few precious seconds?
(*not their real names)