Spring it Forward

If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself longing for that extra hour that we lost from the time we went to bed on Saturday and the time we got up on Sunday. So here was my challenge this morning – instead of focusing on what I ‘lost,’ how can I make a difference in my sphere of influence? Whose lives will I touch today and what lasting impact will I have on them?

This reminds me of a grocery store sacker named Leo. Although our paths crossed but once for only a few short minutes, the indelible mark he left on me is nothing less than extraordinary. I have shared this story many times, but some things are worth repeating…

The story begins on a Colorado business trip, where I spent three days visiting offices. My last visit took me to Winter Park, and my last stop happened be at Safeway® next to the office for an afternoon Starbucks® run.

We pulled into the Safeway parking lot and parked. As I exited the car, the closing door hit my BlackBerry® holster, which sent my phone down the parking lot drain. Suddenly I hit panic mode. All I could think about was getting my phone that sat lurking in the murky water. But how?

In front of the store, I saw a young man dressed in black pants, short-sleeved khaki-colored shirt and a black Safeway apron emptying trash cans. I spotted a large object that looked like my saving grace. I approached and asked him if I could have the long cardboard box – it must have been a good six feet in length. With a puzzled look, he smiled as if he heard the desperation in my voice and replied, “Is there something I can I help you with?”

I told him about my phone and his smile grew as he seemingly held back his laughter. After all, who in their right mind would think about rescuing a phone from a drain?

We walked to the scene, and together, lifted the heavy steel grate covering the hole. My plan was to use the long cardboard box as makeshift fishing tool. Leo had a different plan.

This young man, a complete stranger, stepped down into the drain without any reservation or hesitation. He stuck his hand below the brown, cloudy water and searched around. Then, as if finding a hidden treasure, he lifted high above his head a mucky, dripping device in his hand. Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure about getting my phone back.

He exited the drain, and as you might imagine his shoes and pants from the mid-calf down were drenched – but the smile on his face was brighter than before.

When I returned to Houston, I sent Leo a small gift as a token of appreciation and a thank-you note. I told him if he ever decided to move to Houston, he had a job. I also wrote to the President of Safeway, commending him on the remarkable employee working for his company.

Last year, I followed up with the store manager and learned that Leo is still with Safeway, only he is now Produce Manager.

This story really has nothing to do with a phone – it’s about a stranger who cared enough to make a difference in my life. Perhaps it’s holding the door for someone, sharing a kind word or a smile – or just listening. You and I have the same opportunities every day, whether it’s co-worker, a family member, a friend or even a stranger.

You never know how much an unselfish act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life. What will you do to make someone else smile today?

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