This is part two of a series of “I’ll write these until I can’t think of anymore good stories” posts.
Be Kind: They Might Be Your Boss One Day
I meet with this guy once a month to chat, catch up, listen to his life stories, and ask him questions about things that have been on my mind. He’s actually not just a guy, he’s like an everyday hero. He’s one of those men who has been quietly going about the business of loving his family deeply, serving his church and community, and learning more and more about God each day for most of his adult life. He was my little league baseball coach for most of my time in little league, he was a deacon in the church I grew up in, and I spent a ton of time at his house growing up, as his son and I were best friends.
When we moved back into town, I reached out to him and asked if we could start meeting and talking. I don’t really know if he knew what that meant, but I think he felt a little bit obliged to say yes, so, we’ve been meeting.
He has a really cool story in his life, that involves him going to prison for somewhere between 12-18 months. I won’t go into all the details, but essentially he did something, got caught, had a chance to lie his way into a lighter sentence, refused, and then went to prison. During one of our talks I asked him what he learned during his time in the joint, and he said one of the things was that he decided to be as positive as he could about things. So he approached everything with an upbeat attitude (which I would imagine is not easy to do in prison). When he was in prison, he had a job that he was assigned. I’m not sure exactly what the job was, but I can’t imagine it was anything incredibly inspiring. But he decided that he was really going to approach his job like it was important, and work hard at it. But this is not a story about working hard…
The guards or prison workers who oversaw the inmates while they worked, were not the nicest of guys. Even the nice ones, according to my friend, talked down to the inmates and treated them as less thans. But my friend was determined to be kind and positive in his interactions. Finally, he met one guard in particular that was actually nice to him too. Not fake nice, but genuinely kind. So they made a connection, I guess as much as you can between inmate and prison worker, based on a common kindness in how they treated one another.
Now, during his stay, my friend stayed in constant contact with his former employer, as he hoped to have a job when he got out. They were encouraging about the prospect, and he felt like he had something pretty well lined up for himself. Well, about the time he is supposed to get out, his company is bought out. Of course, now he is concerned about having a job. He has some promising conversations with the new owners, but there is no guarantee that it will work out, so this is a time of real uncertainty for him and his family, not to mention that he has been in prison for a year. When he finally gets out, and goes to work, at the new company, who is one of the first faces he sees? The guy who oversaw his job at the prison! This guy was now one of his superiors at this “new” job that was still a bit tenuous. Apparently he decided to get out of the ever enjoyable position of overseeing prison work, and this was the place that he landed. It’s almost unbelievable. They shared a laugh about their connection, and I think this guy was willing to vouch for him as needed, based on his attitude and the kindness he had displayed during a time that it would have been very easy to be rude and grumpy.
Be kind, because they might be your boss one day.