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Ordinary People Taking Action
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It was a Monday morning, October 1, 2012.
I was headed to facilitate a training for a team at Microsoft. I was proud of myself for arriving on time, early in fact. Happy to have a warm latte in my hand, I also managed to carry my purse, computer bag and roll a cart of training materials behind me. It was sunny outside and honestly it was a good Monday.
I pushed the elevator button to go up and waited for the elevator to arrive. When the doors opened, four men came out of the elevator laughing, almost like grade-school boys. I didn’t think much of it and thought maybe they were having a good day too. I proceeded to make my way into the elevator and push the button 23, when I realized immediately why those men were laughing. They had pushed every single button in the elevator as they got out. Childlike I thought.
In a moment, something so tiny took my great Monday and really made it go sour. I was so annoyed by having to stop at all these floors. Also, I happen to hate being in elevators, so this was just extending an already unenjoyable experience. And as the seconds passed, I was no longer just annoyed. I was furious.
The doors closed, and I started up. It took a moment before the first stop as I made my way from floor 2 to 14, not because these floors were spared in the button pushing, but because this particular elevator skipped floors. At floor 14, it started.
The doors opened, and of course, no one was there. Even when I pushed the button to close the door, it felt like forever. Floor 15, elevator stopped, doors opened, I waited, again. Suddenly, my coffee didn’t taste as good. The sunny morning wasn’t making me smile. My annoyance was building. And then almost out of nowhere, a thought arose. I could let this ruin my day or I could do something.
The concept of starting my day over went through my head.
But instead of starting my day over, I started the elevator ride over. My new plan? Every time the doors open I am going to say to myself something I am thankful for.
Here is my list…
Floor 16: I’m thankful for the latte that I have to enjoy on this long elevator ride.
Floor 17: I’m thankful for this bin of materials so that I could put my laptop bag and purse down and not hurt my shoulder anymore.
Floor 18: I’m thankful for my ability to start this ride over in my mind.
Floor 19: I’m thankful I have a job.
Floor 20: I’m thankful that I’m in the elevator alone and not with smelly people or loud gum chewers.
Floor 21: I’m thankful for my phone so that I can take a picture of the elevator panel.
Floor 22: I’m thankful for my change in attitude, otherwise I wouldn’t be enjoying this elevator ride.
Floor 23: I’m thankful for my family.
Floor 24: I’m thankful for my health.
As I arrived at floor 24, it hit me that I was supposed to have gotten off on floor 23. I got so caught up in my thankful thoughts that I’d stayed on the elevator I’d so desperately wanted to exit just a few short moments ago. I pushed the button to go back down to floor 23.
I walked off the elevator and felt cheated that I’d missed saying what I was thankful for on floors 14 and 15, because at that point, I hadn’t started the thankful game yet. I considered getting back on the elevator, riding down to floor 2 and starting all over again, but decided not to.
Other people might be on the elevator this time and they’d certainly be annoyed with me if I pushed the buttons on every floor. Besides, I did need to get ready for my training. I proceeded to the conference room to set up.
As the day went on, I started thinking about my thankful list. I had written it down when I got to the conference room, so it was on a piece of paper in front of me all day. It occurred to me that my list was pretty lame. A little shallow. It lacked depth. I wanted a redo. I wanted something more meaningful. I wanted something better listed for each floor, with the exception of floors 23 and 24 of course. I started to redo it, but then decided that was lame too. I didn’t need to redo my list. It was just a silly thing I did to pass the time.
At the end of the day, I looked at my list and finally laughed about it. It was kind of a reflection of my morning staring back at me. I decided that I didn’t need to change it, I just needed to add those missing two floors. So here goes:
Floor 14: I’m thankful for the men who pushed all these buttons.
Floor 15: I’m thankful that I realized (finally) that I am thankful for the men who pushed all the elevator buttons.
My training was over, so I packed up and headed to the elevators to leave for the day. As I went down in the elevator, I realized I was alone. Although it did cross my mind, I resisted the urge to push every button. I did, however, think about being thankful for various parts of and people in my life.
As the doors opened on the lobby floor, I couldn’t help it, I pushed all the buttons for each floor and walked off. I grinned and chuckled softly to myself as I saw one guy enter the elevator to go up. What would his ride be like?
May we all appreciate life, even the parts of life that annoy us. And, my hope is that you all enjoy your elevator ride today, whatever floors it takes you to.