Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I SEE you...

All too often, there are people who are in the background. They lurk in the backdrop, helping things move along and very rarely get any credit for the jobs they perform on a daily basis. A school is a perfect example of how there are many people working together, some on the forefront, some in the background, but neither can perform their duties without the other.

I happen to believe that we are only as good as the people who work with us. Sometimes, we are blessed with wonderful co-workers; other times, well, you know...I am blessed. I thoroughly enjoy the majority of my colleagues and co-workers. But yesterday, I was reminded of the caliber of people I work with.

I had been waiting for some important information pertaining to a student from another school within our District. I had been asking about this information for months, anxiously awaiting it like a child waits for Santa's visit. Every day, I would ask the Registrar if the stuff had come, every day she would tell me it hadn't and she would check into it.

Yesterday, this woman; whose desk is a constant haphazard of papers and files that stand tall and threatening and is ALWAYS busy, picked up the phone and called the other school. Told them to put her through to their Registrar, told them of the ridiculous amount of time that had transpired without said information, and further informed them she would go pick it up herself when they had it ready...I was impressed. I thanked her and went on about my day, thinking that again, I would be empty-handed.

But imagine my surprise when she called me a few hours later and told me she had the information I had been waiting for. The smile on her face was priceless. I thanked her again, but felt that a mere, verbal thanks was just not enough for all that she had done for me. She had abandoned the fortress of her desk, her busy phone and its awaiting urgent messages, her tasks that needed her attention, and she put my need first.

I pulled out a small notepad, wrapped it and wrote her a simple thank you note. She was surprised when she received it this morning. She gave me a look, opened her mouth, but nothing came out...and I was thrilled.

Sometimes, we are so accustomed to apathy that we cannot recognize empathy when it slaps us across the face. We are so used to being ignored, our jobs completed, our integration into the working machinery so perfect, that we are invisible.

But I SAW her yesterday. I saw her effort, her kindness, her willingness to go above and beyond. And I am grateful.

I have been on the other side of that scenario. Most of the time, I don't mind that the thanks are minimal to non-existent. The reward is in solving a problem, being helpful, extending the kindness to someone else.

But when someone takes the time to recognize that gesture, and tells you what an impact that gesture made on them, that takes your breath away. It fuels that desire to extend another gesture to another person.

As mothers, we all know what a thankless job mothering is: where those you are raising rarely appreciate the work you are doing while they are children. They recognize it as adults, when they are parents of their own children, encountering the same joys and challenges we face on a daily basis.

Every once in a while, when your children are young, they have a moment of lucidity and really SEE you. They see who you are, what you have put aside to be their mother, the sacrifices you are making, all that you do in the background so that the well-oiled machine that is their childhood runs without kinks. And when those rare moments occur, they fill us with love and gratitude. They allow us to continue in the background, doing what we must, what we cannot live without.

This lady has grown children. She has a granddaughter. Her smile this morning was one of a mother who has been SEEN. Her smile this morning made my step light.


  1. I love this, Maria. The true art of SEEING someone. I try to practice this all the time, with homeless people, with waiters, never to act like a person is just a role but a human being, anymore than I am.

  2. I really love this post! Today I am going to make it a point to SEE everyone!

  3. What a gorgeous story, Maria. I am impressed by your registrar's proactive approach and by the generosity of spirit that you showed in recognizing her act. I couldn't agree more with this line: "Sometimes, we are so accustomed to apathy that we cannot recognize empathy when it slaps us across the face."

    I will do my best today to really see everyone I encounter.

  4. what a lovely post! And so true.

    Visiting from SITS


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