Worth is Not Measured in Dollars or IQ
By Lauren Kennedy – http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com
I frequently shop at Krogers. Their plastic shopping bags are rather small and extremely thin and weak. If you put three cans in one bag and pick it up too quickly, they will bust out the bottom of the bag. Any item that has square corners, quickly tears a gash in the bag. And my kids are anything but careful when they bring in the groceries from the car.
Time and again, I have said to the baggers, “Please do not make the bags full or heavy.” But my request always seems to fall on deaf ears. After a glass jar of applesauce fell through the bottom of the bag and smashed all over my driveway, I decided to bag my own groceries.
The baggers always look a bit confused when I tell them that I will bag my own groceries, but at least I get all my items in the house in one piece.
The other day, I was once again standing in line at Kroger with a cart full of groceries. I had spent two hours in the doctors office to get treated for asthmatic bronchitis and another hour waiting for my prescriptions to be filled. By the time it was my turn to check out, I just wanted to get back home and lay down.
So when one of the baggers came to help me unload my cart, I was relieved to have some assistance. Instead of telling him that I would bag them myself, I just ask him not to pack the bags full or heavy, expecting the request to once again be ignored.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Finally, I wheeled out the cart load of groceries with my last bit of energy. As I put them in the car, I realized he had actually complied with my request, and he had also packed cold food with cold food, and non food with non food, something that I had completely given up on ever getting done.
A job well done deserves acknowledgement. So I thought I would go back into the store and give him a tip. I though that tipping might be against their policy. So I asked the manage if I could tip my bagger because he had done a wonderful job. She said, “Oh, you mean David? Isn’t he sweet?”
David happened to be one of their employees that is mentally challenged. (I believe that is the proper term.)
I replied, “Well, yes he is sweet, but I want to tip him because he is the only bagger in two years that has ever packed my bags the way I had asked for it to be done.”
But no, tipping is not allowed. She said that a compliment would mean just as much as a tip to him. Hmmm. Even if someone is sweet, he can’t buy anything with compliments.
Since I could not tip him, I found him and paid him a compliment instead. He actually hugged me.
What do You Value?
As I trudged back to the car, feeling a bit lighter, in spite of the congestion and fatigue from the bronchitis, I reflected on our priorities and values as a society.
We reward intelligence, but it is conscientiousness and thoughtfulness that demonstrate character. We idealize the wealthy, expressing disbelief that a violent crime could occur in their high class neighborhoods, and if so, the perpetrator must have been an outsider. We respect the successful executives, while we penalize the corporate whistle blower who risked his career for having the courage and integrity of his convictions. We unquestionably give credence, our trust and our loyalty to people with power and prestige. To a person that is compassionate and honest, we give platitudes, isn’t that nice, isn’t he sweet, but they remain insignificant for us unless they also have status.
Given our priorities, we can hardly blame wall street for their actions. A as a society, our values, the qualities we most respect and desire, are wealth rather than honesty, success rather than integrity , and power and prestige over fairness and compassion.
But it was David, not those wealthy, successful and powerful individuals, who created a bit of sunshine in a rather long and trying day. David, rather than dismissing my request, as the more intelligent individuals had done, actually listened. In addition, he demonstrated superb reasoning and conscientiousness when he bagged the cold foods together, non food items together, and produce together. Unlike the other baggers, he realized that putting fresh fruit under a can of soup, was not a good idea.
Yes, he was sweet, but he was also capable, caring, conscientiousness and valuable. Character, integrity and value are independent of wealth, status or power.
Each of us is important, no matter our level of intelligence, status or wealth. We each can touch others’ lives in our own unique way. We can choose to remain self involved. Or we can choose to be aware and present to each moment and to the people that show up in it. We can choose to cast our judgments, rationalization, and fears aside, and respond from the urgings of our heart and spirit. You can never know when that one caring word, act or gesture may be the motivation that changes the course of someone’s life. Or puts a ray of hope in their day.
I may still slip David a tip.