When I was a teen, I wanted my life to mean something. I wanted to make sure I would do something grandiose that would favorably impact the world. I was more interested in the “bigness” of it, then in the favorable, positive aspect of helping others. The joys of youth. . .
As my life moved forward, I slowly but surely realized that the numbers game, so to speak, is not that important. The focus is assisting those along my path. Those who need(ed) my help, will and did show up. People matter, much more than huge numbers do.
Case in point, I went to the local Publix (supermarket) the other day, much like I have many, many times during the 13 years of living in this neighborhood. I have seen and have had pleasant conversation with the manager countless times. This day was different.
Knowing my interest in learning Russian, he eager to let me know that his new employee was from Chechnya, Russia and I would probably want to meet her. It was a thoughtful and kind gesture, one that not only opened a door for language learning, but opened my eyes to a deeper learning.
If you have ever seen the movie “Miracle,” there were many classic lines of note. One of my favorites that it is a perfect fit here is . . . . “You are missing the best players Herb.” “I don’t want the best players Craig. I want the right ones. . . . ”
Jay (the Publix manager) has a unique approach to hiring employees. Some are hard working, “regular” people you would see anywhere. They could find work almost anywhere, but reasons like short driving distance and part time options make Publix a good place for them.
Others are a bit roughed up, having some emotional or psychological issues. Having worked in this field for a few years, I recognized some of the typical behaviors. Jay treats them the way he treats anyone else. . . almost. When stress gets too high, he subtly walks them away for a break. I suspect almost no one notices.
Still others, like my new friend from Chechnya, struggle with English and have limited employment options because of this. The sushi chef is from Burma. People who bag the groceries are from China, Venezuela and places around the beautiful globe. Everyone is treated similarly — with respect and awareness of individual challenges.
We all have a personal message that we share with the world. It became very clear that Jay’s message was “everyone matters.”
I have gone to Publix hundreds of times and came home with some of the tastiest, nutritious products. Some were pure nourishment, while others were gifts. Yesterday, I brought home the best gift ever from Publix — a life reminder that Everyone Matters.