The maintenance guy in our building is an extremely personable guy. He and I have struck up a unique friendship which consists of a lot of smart-ass remarks and kidding around. He's a fun guy with always a joke or wisecrack at the ready. I really look forward to bumping into him when I see him in the building - sometimes making an excuse to leave my office throughout the day in hopes of just seeing him.
One day towards the end of last year he remarked that I was one of the few people in the building that paid any attention to him. He asked why I was so different - aside from my desire to be a bigger smart-ass than him? I told him that I wasn't sure why other people didn't give him a "heaping of crap" every other day because clearly he was so deserving! We both laughed. Then I told him I can't speak for other people but I enjoy meeting fun, interesting and yes, often crass individuals that don't mind sharing their personality. He liked that.
Yesterday I was coming back from lunch and saw him in the lobby. He saw me about the same time and came barreling over with a new joke. We shook hands and shot the sh@t for a few minutes and then I headed upstairs to my office. At the top of the stairs one of the ladies from one of the other offices met me at the front of the stairs having just witnessed our friendly banter back and forth. She half-way jokingly said, "He is always shaking your hand doesn't that creep you out? I mean he's so dirty! Just look at his hands! Gross!"
I was at first taken back by her comment and frankly embarrassed that the maintenance man might have overheard her. I just smiled and said, "Those hands are dirty because he's working for all of us here in the building. He's an incredible guy and he honors me every time he wants to shake my hand.
"Besides dirt washes offs with a little soap but the experience of making a friend like him is a stain I can live with." I told her to have a good day and left her standing there with her mouth wide open and a dumbfounded look upon her face.
How many people do we avoid because of their look, their appearance or because they have dirty hands? I know a lot of people with far cleaner hands that could do themselves a mighty big favor by getting their hands a little dirty meeting people just like my maintenance guy.
Will he ever be a long-term business opportunity or potential client....likely no and that's not why I talk to him. What he is to me is a a friend that I'm damn lucky to have. Something I would never have gotten if I had been afraid (or more to the point - judgmental) of a little dirt.