If you are a literate human being, living on planet Earth, who subscribes to any type of social media…you’ve most likely seen an inspirational photo with the words ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’ plastered somewhere on it. In doing a bit of research on the always trusty interwebs, I learned that Socrates, Plato, AND Ian McLaren all penned this particular quote. Imagine that…
As obvious as these words may seem, I was reminded of them with a punch in the gut today.
To set the scene, I should let you know that I work in staffing. Yes, the “temp agency” kind, although our company specializes in much more than that. In this industry, we see an almost TOO clear view of today’s workforce. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright hilarious. A taste of every possible situation that the mind could possibly dream up.
One day last week, I was called from my desk to meet with a former temporary employee of ours, who had been let go from multiple jobs for “attitude problems“. I informed him months ago that we, as a company, had made a decision to no longer represent him as an employee. (This type of situation happens almost daily in our business, so it was nothing out of the ordinary.) So, I re-iterated the fact that his attitude had been an issue and that as a business, we have to make smart decisions about who we employ to represent our company. He cut me off to say that “everyone keeps telling me that, but I don’t know why. I’m sorry if you took it that way, but I’m just being me.” I offered up the suggestion that perception is reality, and that if this is a continuing issue, he might want to look deeper and change his approach when speaking to others. I apologized that we could not be of assistance to him, wished him the best, and sent him on his way.
Fast-forward to yesterday. I was conducting an interview when the same gentleman returned, so my co-worker let him know that I was not available. After the interview, my reaction when she told me about his visit was something along the lines of, “I am NOT going to waste any more time on him.” (UGH, RICKI.)
The day continued…got busy…and I didn’t think about it again.
Until today, when he showed up at our office once more.
I was immediately annoyed. Poised to give this guy a piece of my mind about how he interrupted my busy day for no good reason. I marched out, and asked him to follow me back to an interview room to talk, still annoyed, still poised. He asked how my day was going. “Good”, I said, sharply.
We sat down. I asked him what was going on. “Miss Ricki…I just want to say that I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you last week.” I immediately had to choke back tears. “Everything you said was right. I’ve had a hard year, and I let it affect my attitude towards everyone.” More choking back tears. I couldn’t so much as utter an “okay” to acknowledge his words.
He went on to tell me that his wife cheated on him last month. She left him. Took their baby girl. He now has no support from his family, and she has filed a restraining order against him.
In that moment, I was completely broken. Reminded of how much I need grace, because nothing good or right comes from within me. Anything good or pretty or happy that I can muster is only by the grace of God.
I scolded this man just last week about his outward attitude, and then proceeded to have the ugliest, most selfish inward attitude toward him.
At that moment, my heart truly felt with him. He thanked me for being the person in his life to say something bold to him and get him on the right track. (In no way do I deserve that credit.) I wished him the best and told him to keep his faith and know that everything is going to get better. We said our goodbyes and he left. I sat back down at my desk and couldn’t help but to weep.
I’m beyond grateful to work for a company that keeps Christ at the center of what we do, always. I believe that it opens our lives to these experiences that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
…and that’s the story of how I tried to fix someone, and he ended up fixing me.
P.S. Guess who starts his new job next Monday? I just love a happy ending!