The Kindness of Strangers

Very early in my film and television career I was told by a friend with far more experience than I had to “be nice to everyone on the way up because you’ll see them again on the way down.”
It is always far easier to judge than to take a moment and arrive at a conclusion. By judging, we quickly assess and ascertain, we file and categorize, and then we move on. By doing so we miss out.
I’m reminded of a trip I made to Key West with an old friend. Towards the end of the day we wound up at Mallory Square, where we met a fellow who went by the simple moniker Pirate Tom. He was a guy with an old dog, a beat-up guitar, and not much else. But man could that fella tell a story. He was genuinely happy or at least took great pains to make us believe so. We spent several hours with him, hanging out and talking to him. Wound up getting him a couple of beers, and considering the experience, I think we got away cheaply.
I’m currently on the road. Will be for the next month and a half or so. Part of the new promotional team introducing a brand new automobile to Market. It’s been a lot of fun, being able to utilize my facilitation and content delivery skills in such a varied and often challenging environment to a range of individuals who run the gamut from enaged and caring to completely disconnected, disrespectful, and diseased.
Think about it. We show up to a dealership and ask for these people to give us several hours of their time so we can review content with them and help them understand the vehicle better so that they can then approach customers and clientele appropriately. The response we got really did span the Spectrum from gratitude and warmth to disrespectful crabbiness and colorful commentary. We got all sorts of questions from those who have a genuine interest in learning to those who simply asked when they could get some damn cars to sell.
We show up as strangers and leave sometimes optimistic that we’ve set a group of people up for success, and other times less than hopeful.
Today was one of those days right down the middle. At the end of the day I headed down the road to my next destination and checked in to my next hotel. I’ve become quite The Connoisseur of what should and should not be in a hotel room.
Crossing the threshold into the elevator with my carry-on behind me I turned to hit the button to go to my floor and the key fob from the vehicle I’m driving slips out of my hand, bounces on the floor before taking a well-aimed dive into that space between the elevator itself and the elevator threshold. I watched it disappear and could only imagine what kind of trouble it was going to be to bring out a certified elevator technician to come out, lock down the elevator, raise it and climb down into the pit to retrieve the stupid key fob for the hapless and clumsy human. Thankfully one of the hotel staff saw me looking stupidly at the elevator floor. Once I told her what happened, she tracked down the hotel’s maintenance individual. A few minutes later Miguel showed up, grabbed a flashlight, and shined it down into the dark abyss. Eight or so feet down was the key fob boldly taunting and staring back up at us. He told me he could get it and disappeared before I could react. I quickly followed behind him as he went to a large space that had become a sort of catch-all closet for everyone support-staff related. There he grabbed a very large piece of metal trim, and a magnet.  He went back to try his magic, and it worked up until it got to the bottom of the elevator where the fob forced the magnet to release its steely grip and freefell back to the floor.
Miguel disappeared again, this time returning with a coffee hook affixed to the end of the flat length of metal. In his first attempt he hooked the key ring and very slowly started to pull it up. Before you knew it he handed me the key fob and suggested I keep it in my pocket.
I know too many people who would have turned the other way. I’ve seen too many instances where individuals have all but said ‘it sucks to be you’. I found out from the front desk manager that this is simply the kind of person Miguel is. He doesn’t know what the word no means. Reminds me a lot of Leon, a gentle soul very much like a brother to me.
I asked for Miguel to be called to the front desk. And there I gave him a tip. At first he would not take it, and then I insisted if he wouldn’t use it for him maybe he could buy someone dinner or get something for a grandkid. After much protest, he accepted the money. I think even my abundance of gratitude may have been too much for him because he disappeared before I could thank him again.
What’s the moral of the story? Forgo fumbling with a fob? Take the stairs?
Be grateful for the kindness of strangers. They may happen to be your salvation and your sanity when you least expect it.
Advertisements

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: