Kindness-the Ultimate Superpower!
by Stephen Doherty
“We rise by lifting others.” –Robert Ingersoll
I was walking out of my high-rise apartment building last week and heading for work. Now, while indeed I do live in a “tower,” any notion of luxurious surroundings is quickly dispelled in a dozen different ways-not the least of which is an array of surly maintenance workers who, no doubt, are paid exactly what they’re worth. I’d grown accustomed to their dismissive attitudes and minimalist approach to their daily duties and activities.
However, on this day-as I was walking through my lobby to the parking lot–I came upon a young man, an African American man, probably twenty two or twenty three years old. He was clearly new and not yet indoctrinated in the sullen and sour tenant greeting style of his maintenance brethren. I said hello and his face lit up like a Christmas tree with a huge, effervescent smile, and he repiled, “Good morning to you sir! I hope you have a wonderful day!” I smiled back and slapped him on the shoulder and replied, “Young man-because of that huge smile and wonderful greeting-it already IS a wonderful day!” I had an idea and I stuck out my hand and asked him for his name. “Sir, my name is Anthony Allen, Sir!” I replied, “Anthony-we get out of life what we put in to it. Don’t ever forget that.” He smiled and thanked me again and got back to his chores.
Sadly, I don’t get enough opportunities to run that rare combination of exceptional character and superb customer service skills up the flagpole. What used to be the norm now seems the rare exception. Today, however–I was on a mission. I quickly made some phone calls and did some research and found out who the Regional Vice President of my apartment’s management company was. I wrote him an email (does anyone write letters anymore?) detailing my experience with this exceptional young man I had encountered in my building. I exhausted my collection of adjectives I save for just such occassions like pride, dignity, character, warmth, humility, service, etc. I reminded him that in today’s world-we’re lucky if we can fill these positions with competent skills let alone decent and caring human beings.
I closed by telling him that the Anthony Allen’s of the world are the greatest assets his company has. Instead of being the usual irritant-Anthony Allen was an ambassador of good will that instantly elevated the value of living in that building to every tenant that encountered him. I finished by telling him that Anthony was not fortunate to have this job-but that his management company was fortunate to have Anthony and that he had a professional and moral obligation to acknowledge and recognize that.
Several days later I ran into the manager of my high-rise building and she was so excited to see me. “Mr. Doherty, I just wanted you to know that Anthony received a phone call from the Regional Vice President personally congratulating him on his professionalism! He’s also getting $200 in bonus recognition and was nominated for the annual Employee of the Year Award. When I told him-he just smiled and cried and said, (are you ready?) “Thank you so much, maam!” Mr. Doherty-he was SO happy!”
I ran into Anthony in the lobby today and he walked up to me with that giant smile, grabbed my hand and said, “Good morning sir–SO good to see you!” My heart melted and I smiled right back at him and said, “Good morning, Anthony-the pleasure is ALL mine!” Nothing more needed to be said. I was reminded in the best way possible that kindness is still a super power and that heroes can be found in the most unlikely of places.
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear
and the blind can see.” –Mark Twain