I was having dinner, whilst doing my usual people watching, at a food court yesterday when a busboy caught my eye. He was a few tables away from me doing, well, what he ought to be doing: busing tables. The place was pretty full and he had a lot to tidy up; so, perhaps to maximize his time, he filled his one tray with as much used plates and cups as he could. As he lifted the tray up, the stack of cups wobbled and fell. So, the poor guy had to put the tray down again, gather the cups that are now scattered, and stack them once more. He also had to take out his wiper again to dry up the spilled water/juice/soda on the floor.
Quick on his toes as he was, he was obviously tired already and that little brouhaha was the last thing he needed. There was frustration, exasperation on his face. Add to that, no one bothered to help as if thinking, “That’s his job anyway!” Heck, I also just sat there watching! I was trying to defend my apathy by convincing myself that I was seated too faraway and that he would be done by the time I get there; but there was a nagging, convicting tug that I should have at least asked him if he was okay. That was the least I could do and I didn’t do it. To be perfectly honest, I also cannot understand why I was that bothered. It was his job anyway. He should be okay.
And then, it hit me.
Most of the time, we assume that the people around us are okay just because we are used to them playing certain roles—just because we see them doing the same things,just because they don’t say a word, just because we don’t hear them complain. We assume that they are okay so, we no longer ask.
We grew up knowing that the answer to the question, “How are you?” is “I’m fine. Thank you!”
It was a bit shaking to realize that familiarity can actually make us care less. Dad’s been traveling to work 2 hours daily to work for a year now. He’s okay. Mom’s been doing all the household chores ever since. She’s okay. My sister has never been the type who gets emotional over rejection. She’s okay. My partner never complains. He’s okay.
As much as it warms people’s hearts to know that they are loved and appreciated, people, especially those that we are so accustomed to already, want to know that they are cared for. People want to feel that others are interested not only with what they do but also, with how they feel.
Dad’s not okay today because he felt dizzy during today’s bus ride. Mom’s not okay today because her back aches. Sister’s not okay because it was her dream job that she got turned down for. Partner’s not okay because he’s actually so exhausted from work.
So, you said, “I love you“ today. You said, “Thank you.” You might have blurted out an “I’m sorry“ too but have you asked someone this today: Are you okay?
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4