Early morning routine: Jack, my dog, and I are taking our walk. His leash is in my hand, my headphones are clamped over my ears; I am absorbed in the back-and-forth of my favorite podcast. Jack and I; just doin’ our thing.
The neighborhood is residential; no major thoroughfares, so I’m quite cognizant of the large diesel truck that rattles up next to us and slows down. Matching my pace, the driver waves at me. I assume he’s just being friendly so I return the action, figuring he knows me from my decades of living in a smaller community.
He gestures again, this time I recognize he’s motioning me to come over. Pulling Jack’s leash in tight, we walk on to the street and approach the open passenger window.
The white truck’s interior is clean, uncluttered, and modern, with a flat screen in the center of the dashboard. As for its only passenger, he appears to be in his forties, healthy, short-cropped hair, and brandishing a smile as big as the vehicle and as warm as its motor.
Leaning toward me across the center console, he opens, “You probably don’t remember me…”
“…About 25 years ago, I applied for a job working for you. You didn’t hire me.”
“I’m sorry.” A slight rumbling of anxiety bubbles in my belly. Is this some form of latent workplace revenge?
“No need to apologize,” he quickly adds, waiving away the thought with his hand. “You were very nice and polite. You told me that you thought I was overqualified and that I would get bored, and you felt my talents would be better used elsewhere. I took your advice.”
The truck continues its diesel clattering, I move in closer to hear better.
“I wanted you know that I now run this company; it’s worth a few million dollars. I’m really happy how things turned out. You were right.”
Pleased (and relieved), I respond, “Oh! I’m glad. Maybe YOU should hire ME.”
His laugh is warm, friendly, and relaxed. I suddenly feel like I’m talking to an old friend.
“I see you with your wife walking your dog, and I keep meaning to tell you how grateful I am. But it never seemed the right time — until now.”
“Thank you for doing so. I’m really delighted it worked out so well. It’s nice to know.”
Cars line up and are then forced to drive around us, so, as much as I’m now enjoying this unexpected interlude, I’m self-conscious, and figure I better move on. Before I can, he adds, “Sometimes the Lord pushes you in directions through the people you meet. You are one of those people.” He pauses and looks me in the eyes. “Thank you.”
With that, we shook hands through the window, said goodbye, and the truck disappeared around the corner.
I remained a statue in the road, and reflected on what just happened. I was humbled, uplifted, honored, and — in some way — I had a more pronounced sense of purpose. I don’t know how else to explain it.
We never know, do we, when an action we take will affect someone else in a profound manner? We take care of our families, and ourselves, and in between we try to do our best to treat others with respect and dignity, hoping and praying it all turns out well in the end. Once in awhile, we are lucky enough to find out it did.
What we do matters – in ways we might never even begin to know.