Be the Joy!
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to drive the Houston Medical Center on a regular basis. We always take the same route, entering on Main Street. As you can imagine, on this route, one does not typically see cheerful, smiling people walking the sidewalks as they go to work or head to medical appointments. However, week after week, I began to notice that when I would go through one specific intersection the people crossing seemed happier. They were smiling, they would wave, or they would be laughing and talking in the direction of the crosswalk.
You know, as a psychologist, I am a trained observer. Well, I hate to admit it, but it took me several trips before I figured out the cause of all this unusual pedestrian behavior. Finally, I realized that the common denominator was the police officer manning the crosswalk. For every person that came near, he had a smile, a wave, and a comment. Now realize, I was in a car and not able to hear what he what he was saying, but I could tell he was not only greeting them but also teasing or making funny comments.
What I also noticed was that people began to smile before they even got within his range . . . they were anticipating his joyful nature! When I would drive by, I even found myself looking for him to see what antics he would be up to.
So what was this officer’s job? It was to make sure the people safely crossed the street! It is not necessarily an exciting or glamorous job nor a unique job. There are individuals all across Houston working crosswalks. However, this person brought something special to the job every day that went beyond the task at hand. He brought joy! It was not part of his job description, it was not one of the interview questions, but still he performed his job in a manner that touched others, that made others’ day a bit brighter as they faced difficult circumstances.
I think this observation should make us pause and think of the way in which we do our jobs, especially in the work that we do to support students with disabilities. Doing the task is baseline; it is expected. However, what additional assets do we bring that takes the job to a higher level? Do I inspire? Do I bring joy? Do I bring a bit of lagniappe* to work with me every day?
* lagniappe—given gratuitously or by way of good measure; adding a little extra
(I just had to throw in a Cajun term to keep you on your toes!)