Monday, January 28, 2013

Making someone's day

     I may have met more people in two years than the past 10. I worked for an airport shuttle service from 1994 to 1996. The job included picking up and dropping off people from hotels and the airport on Maui. We would sometimes drive people to other destinations like boat harbors and shopping centers. The salary was low and the drivers worked for tips. When I first started there were several Dodge passenger vans. One was a minivan and the others were full sized vans. The oldest vans had no radio and the AC barely worked. The newer vans were the newer body style with AM/FM radios, tinted windows and working air. Having one of the nice vans could make my day. I loved coming into work and seeing that I had been assigned one of the nice new vans.
     Having a nice van could make my day. Conversely, having one of the kukai vans could be a drag, but they didn’t ruin my day. And there were things other than the vehicle I drove that would make a day good or bad. That was the passengers. It’s been 15 years and I still remember some of my passengers.
     I remember a passenger nearly knocking his head on the van’s ceiling when we saw a whale.    He was a doctor from India.
     I remember the woman who belittled me when I told her I was going to be going to teach English in Budapest, Hungary. She saw it as American Imperialism and then yelled at me when I couldn’t illegally park to drop her off right where she wanted.
     I remember the drunken Frenchman who yelled out my window at another car to “geet off de roahd suck-ayre”.
   Sometimes I went of my way for some people who made me count back their change and walked away without tipping and I remember the people who didn’t have the cash to tip me and actually apologized. I loved their honesty and tactfulness to thank me for the ride and not ignore the tip.
     A rude or arrogant passenger could easily ruin my day. And a nice passenger would make my day. What was nice is that they didn’t have to be a shining nice person and give me a generous tip. All it took was just some friendliness. To this day, 15 or 16 years later I remember driving with several passengers one night from the airport to West Maui. One man in his 50’s was traveling with his mother. She told everyone about living on a farm and when her son was a baby how he would climb everything and how one day they couldn’t find him and finally they spotted him high up on the windmill. The whole van was laughing. Of course I don’t remember the tips that I got that I got that night or what van I was driving. I remember the warmth and humanity that was shared with me and several other strangers over just about 30 minutes.
     I know I have a keen memory for things. But I’m not trying to showcase that here. I want to point out that it didn’t take much to make a regular guy in a dead-end job very happy. It’s easy to make people’s day by standing out and being real.
And here’s the thing: This isn’t a charge to anyone to go out and be nice. I just want people to consider that they may already be like this most of the time. If that is you, be encouraged. You may brighten people’s day quite often and not be aware of it. I can never thank that old lady who made the whole van laugh. There may be plenty of people who can never thank you. On their behalf, thanks.

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