December 1, 2016
Several years ago, I was making several flights a year with layovers in Charlotte, North Carolina. I looked forward to these layovers for one reason… my stop at the ladies’ restroom in terminal B near the main concourse. No, I am not crazy, nor do I have a bladder condition. I loved this stop simply because an angel worked there.
The Charlotte airport has an employee in each bathroom whose job it is to keep the restroom clean and well stocked. Restroom attendants perform this task with varying degrees of competence and I have witnessed their affect vary from depressed, surly, angry, withdrawn, shy and on occasion pleasant. The work is hard, and at times downright unpleasant and the rushed and tired travelers who use the facilities generally act as if they don’t even exist.
Yet one day I walked into the restroom and there she stood. A tiny older attendant in her worn but neat uniform who simply glowed as she quickly snatched up trash, wiped a counter, and with a happy greeting and huge smile escorted each new “guest” into a clean stall as if she were escorting a guest into her own home. Her cheerful presence illuminated the entire room. It was evident she took great pride in herself and her work. She radiated inner joy and expressed that joy in her movements, punctuated with a smile and a kind word for each person she came in contact with.
As a result, the people around her began to stand taller, step lighter, smile, and chat to her and each other – total strangers. There were smiles and laughter – in a place usually associated with dirt and fatigue. Yet because of this tiny woman, this place was transformed into an oasis of joy, rest and light. Children were attracted to here like a magnet hovering around her with huge eyes and huge smiles. And for each child this tiny angel would produce a piece of candy and offer a special word of encouragement. Other airport employees would even stop by for a few minutes of respite from their own busy days to pass a few words of banter and absorb some of her cheer before returning to their own jobs. Even from out in the main airport passage way you would observe an odd phenomenon. Tired weary people would trudge into the restroom; and smiling people would almost glide out a few minutes later. They even looked different. All because of one tiny older woman. I was fortunate enough to enjoy this woman’s light and example for two years.
How often do so many of us just go to work, bide our time, and get our own jobs done? Are we angry, resentful, or simply indifferent to being there waiting for our paychecks? Whether we are a surgeon or a bathroom attendant we are all in positions of service to humanity. What divides one from the other is not a degree or a skill set. It goes much deeper than that. It is what is inside of us, and how we perform our task. Do we take pride in our work and in ourselves in that position? Are we functioning from a place of inner peace and joy? Are we centered within our own personal divinity, our own inner light? And are we channeling that light into everything we do? When we can do this, we begin to transform not only our own life, but the lives of everyone we touch-just like a tiny angel in Charlotte.