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.