9. You never know who's watching you
I was in marching band in most of high school, and when I was a sophomore a freshman named Kyle joined my section. I don't really remember us ever having any kind of meaningful interaction, but he was new to the instrument so I helped him when I could. He turned out to be the half-brother of the guy I had a crush on, but they had different last names and didn't look alike so I didn't know this at the time. At the end of that school year we started dating, and when he told me about his family I said, "Kyle's your brother? He's in my section in band." The guy replied, "I know. He told me you're the only one who's nice to him." I had no idea.
10. It never hurts to go the extra mile for someone in need
We originally had some issues with one of my employees- he was great when other people were in the store, but would basically stand around doing nothing if he was the only one in the store. Our regional manager told him that he needed to get focused or get out. I was firm in my decision that we should not fire him, although the RM wanted him gone. Our management team would not budge, knowing that if he would just get focused he'd be a great employee. Myself and the other manager talked with him, told him that he needed to keep up his numbers when he wasn't being watched, and he'd be golden in this job. He quit his second job (which he hated and was sucking the life out of him) and we gave him more hours. He immediately improved and was out-selling me and the other manager in just a few weeks time.
He really appreciated having that second chance, more than we realized. He was only with our team for six-ish months before he went off to basic training, but when he left, he wrote in his notice that we were the best managers that he'd ever had and that this was the best job he'd ever had.
11. Treat people with respect, no matter who they are
Working as a "Sandwich Artist" one night when a family walks in, I give them all a big smile and start my routine. The older brother (late teens, early 20's) is special needs (don't know the PC term, sorry) and wants to order his own sub. I don't think anything of it, I start talking with him as I would anyone. Took me a bit longer to get through the order, but hey, it's the end of the night, and the kid is smiling, I've done good. I ring the family out, and they go on their way.
The next night, the younger brother (probably my age at the time) came back into the restaurant. I recognized him and welcomed him back. As I'm getting ready to make his meal, he stops me with a hint of tears in his eyes and says "I'm not here to order; I wanted to come back and thank you for the way you treated my brother. He likes talking to people, but mostly they just ignore him. You really made his night and I can't thank you enough for what you did."
My managers and everyone else in line heard him say that; by the time he shook my hand and walked out, I'm pretty sure we all had tears in our eyes. I don't remember the last time I received a compliment like that, but I'll never forget it.
12. You never really know the impact you have on someone else's life
While in my senior year of high school, several families adopted so-called Vietnamese boat children. They were all in their late teens (>14 YO). One had apparently already graduated in Vietnam but his papers were stolen by pirates as he made he voyage to freedom. He had to retake his senior year of HS to get readmitted to college...one of the smartest guys I ever met.
Two other boys arrived and had 4th and 8th grade educations in Vietnam. For both boys, I was asked to use my study hall period to help the boys with English language. So, I started with picture books and we spent a year learning English (and for me, very little Vietnamese). As we learned, I would take the boys out to stores, parks, churches, etc just so they could associate nouns and verbs to real activities. It seemed to work well...
I learned later that the boy with a 4th grade education struggled a bit because his age and education created a disconnect that was tough to deal with on a daily basis. He did adjust in time.
Two years after my graduation, I was back in town to see one of my good friends graduate. After the graduation ceremony as pictures were being taken and tears were being shed, I heard a voice saying "He's here; mom and dad, he's here!" I was yanked around for a photo with the other "boat kid" who had managed to graduate that year and was headed off to college. He spent quite some time regaling his parents and my friend (and her parents) with the stories of our year and how "I had taught him English."
Until then, I really didn't realize what an impact that I'd had on him. Yes, it felt good.
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