It’s been over three years now since I started studying and practicing the teachings Buddha left behind, the principles of a moral humanity. I often struggle with some of them, but compassion and understanding has been at the heart of what I try to expel in every encounter with another person, no matter how large a scale that encounter may be.
As you may or may not know, I work for a TV cable provider. My job involves a hands on approach with nearly every customer for the work I do each day. Some day it’s just climbing a pole and connecting or disconnecting lines, but for the most part I am in people’s homes trouble shooting issues or installing/ upgrading new services. Of course for some this may take a person out of their comfort zone being in someone elses home, but I am there to do the job I was asked and have no issues with it.
A few days ago I had a trouble call at a woman’s home and was asked to pre-call before arriving. I called the customer and let her know I was on the way. She seemed like maybe she was having a bad day, she was quite short on the phone. So I already had the idea that the call was not going to be an enjoyable one. I arrived at the woman’s home and was invited in to begin my work.
Before I get ahead of myself, I’ve learned a couple “tricks” that help with each customer. I try to pick up what the person might be like by the decor and surroundings in the home. Whether it be the particular artists paintings that are hung, photos of their family and when I can, I try to look at a book shelf to see what they are reading/ have read. I picked up minor hints that this particular customer might be interested in environmental issues, not the trendy “green” environmental issues, but this woman seemed to be living this way for some decades.
While doing my job I tried to make some light conversation, dropping a hint here and there that I have some of the same interests, have a family (she was a grandmother so I knew family was a safe topic to bring up). It seemed to work and she opened right up, she started recommending books and authors, even mentioned a couple documentaries that I should view.
I spoke to her about a man that I met who is local here on Cape Cod and has been at the forefront of “green” living for sometime. His name is Malcolm Wells and he is known in wide circles as “the father of modern earth-sheltered architecture”. She had not heard of him, but the mere mention of his name and work inspired her enough to write his name down and the title of the book he had written, Recovering America.
To make a long story short, although I thought this was going to be a difficult situation to work, it wasn’t. I was able to do the work that I was requested to do, despite the fact that the customer seemed a little irritable at first. I was able to break through whatever irritation there was and quite possibly, made a friend. Albeit she didn’t seem to excited to have me coming in the house at first, her last words to me as I walked out of her home were, “Nathan I am so glad we got to meet.” That felt pretty good! And you know something, I am glad we met as well.
I learned alot from her that day, mainly that the impressions we get of people may not be the truth. We’ve got to encounter the truth to learn from it.