Sunday, December 7, 2014

Not Zen 139: Small Gestures

At the side door of a large city building, a man struggled with a cart.  He was a short, muscular fellow.  On his chest, he wore a uniform shirt.  On his head, he had a cap with an emblem.  He'd gotten the door open.  But his handtruck was a tight fit.

The cart bed wasn't too wide but it had been laden with boxes, large and small.  The lightest ones at the top jostled.  Every time he tried to push his cart through the available space, its wheels bumped against the handle, the mortise joint, the frame, or the raised door sill.  With every bump, one of the lightest boxes fell off.  He had to stop.  After each halt in progress, he shoved the door open with one arm, grabbed the cart handle, and tried again.  But each time, he lost a box in the process and had to replace it.  Dozens of people passed by on the street outside.  A few passed through the door, outside to inside.  They ignored him.

Eventually, a tall man in a suit rushed up.  He'd seen the struggle from a distance and ventured over to hold the door.

"Thanks, buddy," said the shorter man.  "My boss overloaded me.  Kind of tough here."

He put both hands on the cart handle and eased it through.  This time, the door handle didn't hit him.  Nothing endangered his boxes until he paused to ease the wheels over the raised sill.

"I'm probably just like your boss," the newcomer said.  "I give a lot of orders to a lot of work crews and most of the time I don't really know what I'm doing."

"Huh.  At least you help."

"I try."  The man in the suit waved off the complement.  "But really, my job makes me act like an ass.  I order people to do work they don't like. Then I have to fire the poor performers. That's the worst.  But what kind of an ass wouldn't hold open a door for someone who needs it?"

The worker shrugged.  The other fellow was someone's boss and, by his own admission, not the best.

After he eased the cart onto the sidewalk, he had to make his way through the pedestrians, the cyclists, and the car traffic.  He crossed the street with the signal, but slowly.  Cars honked.  He dropped a package, picked it up, and held it down on the cart.  The thumb of his left hand kept a tall stack steady as he eased up the ramp at the curb.

His destination was the corner building, as close and as convenient as it could be.  The place had glass double doors.  It should have been easy.  But the entrance had been paved with cobblestones.  Their uneven surface knocked his packages off of their stacks.  The threshold rose above the stones so that, once again, he struggled to get his cart through.  There were two security guards behind the front desk.  He could see them watching him.  Neither got up.

People strolled by.  Employees from the building passed in and out of the doors. No one offered to hold a door open for him.  No one came to lift the front wheels of the cart.  A woman with a heavy purse and a fur collar passed behind.  She scowled at the inconvenience of walking around him.

He paused for a moment, hands on hips.  After half a minute, he wandered around to the front of the cart to try to lift the wheels.  Then he noticed a man striding his way.  It was the same tall fellow who had helped him at the previous building.

"I guess I caught up to you before anyone else could step in."  He put his hand on the cart handle and pushed down as the smaller man lifted.  Together, they levered the cart over the threshold.  "This is a surprise."

"I wish it was, buddy."  The workman tipped his cap.  "I wish it was."


  1. People struggle all the time. Sometimes there is something so simple that we can do to make their lives easier. You can stop and let person who has been waiting to make a left turn in front of you. You can hold a door for someone laden with packages. You can smile at people as you meet you pass them. ...wave when someone lets you into traffic. Everyday there are little moments when you can share a bit of your light with someone who needs it; it seems such a simple thing...but sometimes it means so much. Hugs! :)

  2. You are a thoughtful master at this, I believe.