Monday, July 27, 2009

Adventure Day 8 – Bill the doorman

Today, after my prolonged escapade with the earbuds (which are still in hiding as I write this), I decided to go after #20 and # 26 on my list. Welcome our new neighbours with muffins and do something nice for Bill the doorman. If you haven’t guessed, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by making a batch of yummy banana muffins to split between the two deeds. Not to be lazy, instead I know that Bill would appreciate this, as he is on his own.

I’m not sure why these items are really on my list. I am the type of person who shares baked goods with my neighbours, well if I knew them I would. You see when you grow up in a village on the same street your whole life your neighbours are your family. I also made those I worked with a part of my family too. I’d take goodies to the older folks, sometimes a meal to the ones would were sick, try to do some extras if I had time and it was needed. Doing good stuff feels good. It lets people know you care. I care. I’m not trying to sound all great and wonderful, but I am the type of person who when I hear of a need I search my mind for ways to help (of course generally ones that will fit my comfort level and time schedule – I’m not that perfect). Sometimes though I have to reign it in a bit because for some reason strangers think you are a little crazy when you want to help and they barely know you – I know, I’ve offered before.

Back to # 26. Let me tell you a little bit about Bill. He’s probably in his 80’s. He lives here alone and recently his wife passed away. Before that she lived in a nursing home for years with Alzheimer’s I think – if it wasn’t Alzheimer's I know that it was something where she couldn’t get out, do much or really contribute to their time together. He visited her often. He never complained, but always carried a smile, and still does. He often sits at the front door of our building on the bench before supper time and then later after supper too. If he sees you coming he almost always gets up to open the door for you. If he doesn’t do that, you will at least get a cheerful hello, how are you, and a quip about something he’s noticed about you.

Bill ALWAYS tries to give our dogs a pet when they are coming and going. And if they seem distracted and move away he’ll say: ‘Oh, they’re ready to go for their walk (or inside), let them go!’ He also always refers to our two as ‘the team’ (and now has others doing so), and never fails to ask where they are or what they are doing. I like Bill, he makes me smile inside (and outside too).

Today was Bill’s day; it was time for me to show (in a very small way) that he meant something to us, that we cared. So, I tightly wrapped up 6 fresh out of the oven banana muffins and taped a little card with a message from ‘the team’ so that if I chickened out handing them to him myself I could safely leave them on the floor by his door (that would be way less awkward for me). As I approached the door and looked at ground I realized it wasn’t the cleanest. At first I actually did place them on the ground and thought to myself ‘Just knock on the door and run – that way they won’t sit there long. There’s no one in the laundry room, you can always hide in there’ (I checked as I walked by). But I couldn’t do it. I knew that the whole point of this exercise was to ‘connect’ and really show people that I cared and that they meant something.

I sighed to myself and knocked on the door. I heard nothing. ‘Ooh, maybe Bill’s being a doorman right now and I’ll HAVE to leave these on the floor – yay!!’ I thought. I knocked again, just in case. After another minute I heard muffled footsteps coming to the door. ‘Rats! I feel like a weirdo’ I thought. The door opened and there stood Bill the doorman with his hair all disheveled (perhaps he was having a siesta) and his old apron on. He’s usually neat as a pin while on duty. He was surprised to see me standing there and I can’t exactly remember what he said but I told him that I’d been baking and wanted to share some with him. I quickly handed him the goods and he continued to look shocked and said he didn’t get stuff like this anymore since his wife left him (she didn’t actually leave him like that) and then he told me she had passed away a few weeks ago. I tried to play dumb and slough it off, but Bill was serious and so thankful. Bill acted like I’d given him my right arm. He said over and over that it wasn’t necessary for me to do that, and ‘all that stuff’ was too much. I told him no bother and tried to inch away. He apologetically told me how his apartment has in disarray, I excused him of worry, said no problem and to enjoy the muffins. His gratitude continued as the door closed.

I hurried to the elevator thankful that the interaction was over. Then seconds later I felt emotion creeping into my heart and then my throat, then my nose and briefly to my eyes. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not an easy crier. I don’t generally need a Kleenex box to get through a sap filled movie, but today I was feeling. All I did was take an old man some muffins, but it felt like more. It was more. I stepped out of my world and into his for a few moments and saw his heart, and showed him mine. Who knew muffins could do that?

Maybe that’s why these two numbers were challenging to me. Several times in the past year I have wanted to do something nice for Bill and others. But what do you say to someone you only know from going in and out the door everyday? It just feels awkward. Doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know - how do you walk up to someone’s door, knock on it and say ‘Here are some muffins, just because’? There’s just something uncomfortable about it. It’s like we need a reason to be nice.

I suppose though it’s not the act itself that is difficult, it’s what both people know is behind the act – care, love, affection. Those three things generally come with strings and a history, and with strangers you generally have neither. Today I learned that sometimes the best way to show care, love and affection is to not think so much, just do. Sometimes our thinking takes over and prevents us from doing. ‘What are they going to think?’ ‘What am I gonna say?’ ‘What if it feels weird?’ After today, my response is: So what? Feel weird. Be awkward. Don’t say. And most of all, don’t worry about what ‘they’ think.

Instead just take a few steps and go into their world for a moment. Don’t underestimate a moment; it can change your life and maybe even theirs.


Anonymous said...

Eva, you nailed it! I am an extremely king, compassionate person, as long as the acts of kindness are done in my time and on my terms. When people call and ask for help, I often feel irritated, yet if I'd initiated the same thing, or if I wasn't busy, it would be no problem. Why then do I feel so "put out" when others need me? I've thought of this often lately, and I think it's because I have a certain group of things I'm willing to do at certain times, and outside of that, I'm really very selfish. I think this is one of the biggest issues I deal with (selfishness) and it's so contrary to the attitude of the Lord Jesus. How many times was he faced with inconvenient people and inconvenient timing (for example Nicodemus) and yet he was always there, and always meeting the people's needs.

I think that this may have been my favourite post yet. In my life there have been people that I've reached out to thinking that I was doing them a favour, and yet it was me who came away from the experience feeling blessed. On the flip side, I've noticed people who are just waiting for something small, something that is so easy for me to do, and yet for many reasons, I've never followed through on my good intentions. Often it's not because I don't want to help, it's because my own life is so full and happy that I completely miss out on others who need a kind word, a moment of my time. Thanks for the reminder to make time for the Bills in our lives.

Have a good day 9! Hope you find your ear buds!


Zoe said...

This was such a sweet post!ins I am so inspired by this.. you should check in on me in a few days and see if I've done anything about it. =)

Anonymous said...

Yes, like this fellow anonymous person said- you NAILED it!!!!
I remember bring donuts to some of my favorite teachers in high school, & I remember my religion teacher saying, "Buy why?" We are raised in a society that tells us, "You need a reason to be nice"....
-Your cuz :)