By Alan Okami
Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? I've been spending a lot of time trying to develop "perspective", as this story implores us to do.
I don't know the person that is the inspiration behind this post, all I know is that I was compelled to write it as I reflected on watching him. I'll call him "Joe".
A couple weeks ago, I went to the market with my family. I was busy lamenting over how dirty I consider that particular place, then "he" caught my eye. I seem to have a soft spot for those with mental disabilities, perhaps due to my own cousin's life. My cousin lives a fully independent life, despite the reasons why he should not be able to. I'm guessing Joe has a similar story. He was busy gathering carts and pushing around stock items on pallets. He appeared to have a good amount of pride in the job he was doing and that made me smile.
Fast forward to today and I happen to see him at the bus stop near my house. There Joe was, standing in his store's uniform, waiting and timing the bus. I saw him glancing at his watch, obviously quite conscious of the time he needed to report to work. Then.....it hit me, right between the eyes...."Perspective".
For many of us, serving in the position he does is not a highly esteemed occupation. Factor in the requirement of a store uniform and the job becomes a little unbearable. But not to Joe. As I mentioned, he did his job with pride, that it matters. His contributions count. His uniform? It's a matter of belonging, a way to contribute and have a source of identity.
Like everyone else, I deal with things that upset me. I get angry, but in my older age, I have been reflecting more. It's hard to do, moreso when I get offended, but I have been taking time to stop and smell the roses. Watching Joe at work helps me to become like 7 blind men.