Anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to dealing with workplace stress.

When I encounter guests who push my buttons:

  •  I weigh the risk of subjecting them to my rather unique sense of humor.
  •  If the reward outweighs the risk (which it usually does), I proceed.
  •  Once the guest has been dealt with accordingly, I move on.
  •  The stress vanishes – until the next time.
  •  I move on.

Every once in awhile, however, I meet a guest who will give me pause and who forces me to adjust my methods – if only for a short time.

Yes, it actually happens – even to me.

They were your typical family of Aussies:

  • The strong, rugged Dad.
  • Statuesque, blonde, perky Mom.
  • Steadfast, helpful uncle.
  • Two twin boys in their Twenties, both born-jokers.

And one unforgettable, slightly older brother, who, when he first caught my attention as I was loading their luggage during the check-out frenzy, appeared to be a tall, athletic, blue-eyed, auburn-haired young man with special needs.

I had no idea just how special he actually was.

His brothers were tossing balloons around the room like drunken toddlers while the adults were buzzing about scanning the room one last time. He stood motionless for a moment, taking it all in. Then he walked over to my cart, a bag in hand and a wide grin on his face. He whipped his rigid right arm back and forth and tossed the bag on the cart, then walked off to the elevators, pleased as punch at his success.

His family just giggled and followed him. I finished my labors and met them downstairs. The young man was bouncing across the crowded lobby. His rubbery legs appeared to buckle with every step but he kept moving. I have to admit, I was actually nervous watching him through the windows on the hotel’s valet deck- and it showed.

My dismay did not go unnoticed by his father, who joined me while we waited for their vehicle.

FATHER:  Can you believe he couldn’t walk a year ago?

Needless to say, I was gobsmacked.

FATHER:  He was in a terrible car crash two years ago. The driver was killed, but the passenger in the backseat was completely fine. He was in the front passenger seat and so he wasn’t so blessed. It’s taken him this long to get back on his feet but he’s done it.

ME:  Can he communicate at all?

FATHER:  No, he can’t say anything but “Mom” so far.

ME:  But the doctors have determined that his brain is still functioning normally?

FATHER:  Oh yeah! But he’s… I don’t know how to describe it…

ME:  The software is still perfect, but the hardware has been damaged?

FATHER:  Exactly! That’s the best way I’ve heard it described by anyone.

And then his father dropped his armor for a brief moment.

FATHER:  It’s been such a rough road… before this… he had a baseball scholarship lined up and the future was already laid out.

ME:  Except it never is. We never really know what the future holds for us, do we?

FATHER:  I can’t argue that point… not after all this.

ME:  It is a truly tragic story, though. In fact, it really couldn’t get any more tragic, could it?

FATHER:  Definitely not. But you know what? He has a smile on his face from the minute he wakes up until he goes to sleep at night.

ME:  How many of us can say that, right?

And with that, we began to load their SUV as his amazing son continued to bounce around and radiate positive vibes. I finished up, accepted a tip (naturally), and began to grin uncontrollably as I said goodbye to the entire family. For once, I walked away from a luggage call with far more than a gratuity.

The parallels between this man’s heroic son and my own life soon became obvious. Here is a young man who is trapped in his own body, but his mind is stronger than ever. And here I am, a not-so-young-man whose body is (relatively) strong but whose mind is fractured.

My encounter with the amazing young man from Australia will serve me well as I strive to stay positive this year.

Hey, you never know… it could finally happen.

See you in the lobby, kids…


About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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37 Responses to Perspective.

  1. Wow! I’m glad you were able to notice the message within and so am I. This is a message that I’m sure will touch many of us…thanks for sharing.

  2. An amazing young man indeed. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. What a beautiful moment. Yep. You never know when life could completely change in a minute… or not. Or it could change so subtly over years that a person really needs to take a moment to take stock. (That’s how it goes with my own “special” son).

  4. What a great post to wake up to, Hook.
    We all sometimes forget that there are many things we can be thankful for, so reminders like this are very important. Thank you. 😊

  5. Holly says:

    I’m glad you had that moment with the father and that perspective to start the year.

  6. Wow, you know how to bring tears to my eyes, such a lovely story. I believe when we hear of others troubles, ours seem just a little bit smaller.

  7. Needed this, this morning… so glad you came up on my reader at the right time…

  8. A great start to a new year. Thanks for sharing this – put a big smile on MY face too. 🙂

  9. NancyTex says:

    Well that certainly does bring a bit of perspective to my current crisis. Thank you for reminding me the difference between a mountain and mole hill.

  10. Wonderful story Hook. Thanks for sharing such an uplifting post.

  11. C.E.Robinson says:

    Robert, an inspiring post. Your comments to the father were thoughtful! You seem to handle all types of situations with a great deal of insight. A gift! Good for you. Chryssa

  12. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
    Fractured is simply reorganization to another form. Different. Time will tell which one was the perfect form.
    That make sense? We sometimes limit by preconceived illusions and miss it all.

  13. inidna says:

    Wow, that’s amazing. Thanks for sharing such a great story and message Hook. Hearing things like this really does have a way of putting so many things into perspective!

  14. Mark Myers says:

    Wonderful story. Amazing what you find if you look and listen instead of prejudge. It does put things in perspective and so true that a future can change at any time.

  15. tunisiajolyn84 says:

    What a heartwarming story to read on a Friday night. Thanks for sharing it! And your wisdom was shining in your exchange with the father. I grabbed a few gems myself. Love the positive perspective.

  16. curvyroads says:

    Robert, this post made my heart smile! We truly never know what is to come, and how things can change in an instant. If we can get pleasure out of being more positive, even for a few minutes at the beginning of the day, I say let’s do it! (I’m trying also this year) Hugs.

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