Friday, February 12, 2010

How Big Is Your Ripple?

Most people don't realize in order to create a Ripple for someone you don't always have to do something super huge.  In fact sometimes the smallest of actions (or at least they may appear small to us at the time) can have the biggest of impacts on someone else.  For instance holding the door open and saying good morning to someone.

Case and point.

Mrs. Jones was tucked away in her nice comfy bed dreaming of that Hawaiian vacation her husband keeps promising her.  Suddenly a banging of noise from outside wakes her up and she shoots straight up in bed.  She looks over and her husband has already left for the office.  She suddenly realizes the noise outside is the garbage truck.

As she bolts out of bed she's muttering to herself that Mr. Jones better have  remembered to put out the garbage can.

She pulls back the drapes and sees absolutely nothing on the curb.  She goes racing downstairs in a small revealing robe and out into the garage and starts throwing the bags that no one ever bothers to put in the garbage can in the garbage can.  She hits the garage door button to open it all the while smiling that she's saved the day and nothing happens.  The dang motor won't budge.  She hits and hits the open button and still nothing!

She hears the garbage truck in front of her house.  She starts fiddling with the door to open it manually cussing her husband for buying the cheapest garage door opener the whole time.  She flings the door open with such force she is quite certain she looks like a crazy woman to anyone watching.  Now of course the garbage truck is two houses down the street.   She has two choices.  Leave the garbage for another week or go racing down the street barefoot, barely clothed and give the neighbors and the garbage men quite a show.  She starts charging towards the truck - garbage men smiling at their good fortune the whole time.

She returns to the house to find that the door leading into the house is suddenly locked.  She bangs on the door for what seems like an eternity until finally one of the sleeping children upstairs finally comes down and lets her in.  She glances at the wall clock in the kitchen and a chill runs down her spine as she realizes it's 7:05.  They are WAY LATE!

She nearly bowls over her kid who is basically asleep on his feet and starts screaming at the top of her lungs, "Get up get up everyone, we are late!"  She charges through the house making sure the other two kids are moving - to which there is ample whining and complaining.  She jumps in the shower and there's no hot water - damn hot water heater is on the fritz again.  She suffers through a freezing shower starts drying off her hair and the hair dryer cuts out.  Her blood is boiling now.

She races down stairs to find all three zombies, I mean her kids, moping about and asking if they really need to go to school.  To which they received "the look" from mom and they all were smart enough to shut up.  She tells them there is no time for her make breakfast so she sets three bowls down and a box of cereal with a demand for them to hurry up and eat.  She goes to the fridge to grab the milk to find a cute little note from her husband saying he had finished all the milk and could she buy them more today?  It was the smiley face he drew on the note that made her realize that she and Lorena Bobbit may have in fact been sisters.

When they finally get in the car and head to school, kids complaining about eating dry cereal and all, she is informed by her six year old that they have a class party that day and they were supposed to bring napkins.  She turns the car around and blasts back down the street.  Rushes into the house and opens the cabinet to grab a packet of napkins.  There's another note from her husband indicating they are out of napkins.  She grabs a butcher knife for later and heads back out to the car.

Now the two older kids are fighting and the six year old is crying because she's going to get written up for not bringing napkins.  They are screaming, kicking and crying and it begins to rain.  This of course slows traffic to a crawl and assures her they will be late.  She's so angry she's about to burst.

Finally with kids dropped off at school and a quick drop by to explain to the teacher little Sonya didn't tell her about the napkins and to tell her how terribly sorry she was.  The teacher unmoved coldly told her, "That's alright," to which Mrs. Jones knew it was anything but.  As she sprinted to her car she thought, Mr. Jones would be attending that next parent teacher conference all by his lonesome that was if he was still around to see another parent conference.

She jumps in her car and turns the ignition.  It's dead.  WHAT!?  No way this can't be happening. She thinks to herself I am late to work, the boss has a meeting scheduled and Mr. Jones is no where close.  Tears well up in her eyes and she starts to sob when there is a tapping on the window.  It's creepy Principal Smith who Mrs. Jones believes has a crush on her.  She rolls down the window and explains the car won't start and he offers to give her a jump.   The way he said it made her throw up a little bit in her mouth but she reluctantly agrees.  Principal Smith remarks he must be her hero to which she gives an annoyed laugh.  She pulls her bag with the knife closer just in case.

Back on the road she decides to take a shortcut to her office.  She finds herself breathing for the first time in an hour and tries to calm her nerves by turning on the radio.  The traffic report comes on and informs her the street she has just taken is now backed up because of road construction.  Her shortcut will eventually turn into anything but.

She arrives at the office now big time late, stressed and on edge.  She pulls into the parking lot and wouldn't you know it that worm Jim Collins from sales has taken her spot - her clearly marked spot!  She lets out a few choice words about his husbandry, glances at the bag where the knife is and starts driving around looking for another spot.  Nada....she heads out to the back forty to park.  With briefcase and a stack of papers in hand she starts trucking across the parking lot looking in vein at her watch.  She's gonna hear it from her boss for sure!

She's half way through the parking lot when the bottom falls out of the sky and she gets soaked.  She looks like a drowned rat when she reaches the front of the building.  Then one of her heels catchs a crack and bam down she goes hard.  So there she sat, papers everywhere, broken shoe, purse and briefcase scattered all about and she starts laughing or was it crying? It was hard to tell because what little make-up she had on was now running down her face.

That's when you walk up.

You give her a big smile, hand her your umbrella as you start picking up all that has spilled out from her briefcase.  You help her up and collect everything including the very large and very sharp butcher knife, deciding not to ask and put everything back in her bag.  She's stunned and speechless as she just watches you with odd amazement.  You put your arm around her and start walking her to the door.

"One of those days huh?  I've had my share of them let me tell you" you remark.   You give her an extra nudge as you hold the door open for her and tell her, "Don't worry it can only get better from here."  With a smile and a wink you tell her to have a great day and you head towards the elevator.

Your gesture was nothing huge in the grand scheme of things but in reality it was exactly what Mrs. Jones needed at the exact time she needed it.  Clearly you would have no idea how her morning had previously unfolded as is the case with most people you come in contact with.  However it was the fact you took the time to take action, albeit a small action, that created a Ripple that forever changed the course of Mrs. Jones' day.  That in and of itself is pretty darn awesome!

She made her meeting.  She put the events of morning out of her mind and impressed her boss with the reports she presented in the meeting. No one even noticed they had been drenched in rain.  She left her bad mood out on the curb where you found her and ended up having an amazing day.  Was it all because of you?  Maybe?  I would like to think you played a big part in it --- created a big Ripple for Mrs. Jones with the smallest of effort.

Later that night as Mr. Jones slept beside her, she smiled as she dug through her purse and found the butcher knife.  Maybe she wasn't Lorena Bobbit's sister after all.

The Ripples we create touch the lives of people we know and even some we don't know.   Mr. Jones thanks you for that too by the way!


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