If we're lucky, and open to serendipitous encounters in parallel, we're bound to cross paths periodically with someone who leaves a positively permanent glue-like impression.
I drove up to the payment kiosk at a carwash this week, greeted by a young man whose toddler spunk and thermal welcome left me equal parts amused, grateful, and a bit perplexed.
He engaged with every other customer similarly, as though he had won the lottery. From assisting patrons with their payment and taking a moment to wave to my children through the window, to ensuring each vehicle made it through the carwash without a hitch – not that it's a difficult task, but believe it or not, there are drivers who can bungle an automated wash.
My youngest daughter, four, sees the towering, swaying rubber tentacles as monstrosities that could crawl through the windows at any moment and engulf us all. She wasn't having it, and was clinging to me like a marsupial within seconds. (Perhaps we were the people who manage to bungle the automated wash.)
The enthusiastic fellow caught our in-car interaction, saw me struggling to turn the steering wheel toward the carwash, and walked alongside us part way to the entrance; his mask hardly managing to conceal his uplifted facial expression.
As we exited the wash (youngest child now back in her seat), I explained to my oldest daughter that I had to circle back, find out this gentleman's name, and express gratitude for his kindness.
"I had to come back and let you know that the energy you bring to work is really appreciated," I said. "What's your name?", I squinted toward his rectangular name tag. "Oh, thank you so much. I'm John!" (Even that he said with vigor.) I thanked him again and was on my way, knowing I would plan to return next week with a gift.
What I saw as a generally mundane event, John managed to transform into a ride at Disneyland, and he ensured the rest of us experienced the same elevated perspective. Would all of us be as organically joyous at the kiosk of a carwash? Could we learn to be? What made John uniquely able to do his job with gusto?
As much as I make efforts to see the 'glass half full,' and create 'lemonade out of lemons' on even some of the most challenging of days, watching John in his element caused me to pause, to realize that I had a lot to learn from him. That if we all infuse a bit more pep into our work and mundane tasks, perhaps everything turns into a ride.