What do you need?

Recently I stopped at a deli for lunch.  When I walked up, tray in hand, the young man at the cash register said, as they always do, “How are you today? Did you get everything you need?”  I said – as I always do – “I’m well, and yes I did.”  I said this as I fished through my purse for the money to pay. Then, I hesitated, remembering my some-time vow to note and call people by name, so I looked up, caught his name from the badge, and added, “It’s a nice day. And how are you, Jason? Got big plans for the weekend?”

“I’m looking forward to seeing my family. They’re coming in from Colorado. Thank you for asking how I am,” Jason said.  
 
Our little exchange lasted maybe 30 seconds.  But it was his comment, Thank you for asking how I am, that has had me thinking ever since. 
 
We interact with people every day, many of whom provide us some service. I value all these people who facilitate my life, I truly do. But it’s easy to look past them. Easy to be in a rush. Easy to stay lost in my own thoughts, my own agenda, my own problems. Easy to overlook that another human being has just entered the sphere of my life.
 
It is quite likely that Jason did not see running a cash register as the job he’d most like to have in the world. Just as likely that after taking money from hand after hand, he felt more like a robot than a person. So when someone called him by name, he was pulled out of anonymity, validated as a person in some small way. 
 
I am glad he noted that my comment meant something to him.  Because when he did, he made me think about what I need, perhaps what any of us needs. What we really need may be for someone to take a moment to see us – and talk to us – like real people.
 

Using the right equipment

People tell me writing a blog should be easy. After all, they say, I’m a writer. But from my perspective, being a writer makes it all the harder. I know how much I labor over the words in the articles I write, in the book I published. To spend precious time writing something that I don’t have to write … well. At the same time, I keep tripping across little things – having these little experiences – that I just know I’m supposed to notice, and write about. Today the little thing is YakTrax.

 
I’m a walker. Almost every day, regardless of weather, I head outside for a walk. Mother nature has thrown down the gauntlet this winter in Iowa, rotating ice and snow on a weekly basis. But I am not deterred. If the Alaskans and Norwegians can survive and thrive in all that snow, so can I. 
 
My theory is it’s all in being prepared, having the right equipment.  A face mask against the wind. Mittens that let me expose my fingers without freezing my hands. Still, before my husband came home with YakTrax, I resigned myself to the treadmill at winter’s first sign of ice. Walking every step afraid I’d fall just wasn’t worth it. But once I slipped these little gizmos made of rubber and metal coils over the soles of my shoes, I found I had traction. I could step out with confidence. I didn’t worry about falling.
 
In his book On Writing, Stephen King talks about how important it is for writers to have the right tools in their writing kits.  Perhaps writing a blog will be like YakTrax. One more piece of equipment I’ll discover lets me step out with confidence.