Monday, March 30, 2009


Every morning Marlin says "Good morning" to me, and that simple kindness is changing my life.

It isn't just that he says good morning. He stops what he's doing for the briefest second, looks me in the eyes and says, "Good morning, Jane." (Although my name isn't really Jane.) And then an hour later, he looks up again and say, "Have a nice day, Jane," or "Good-bye, Jane," or "Have a nice weekend."

The first time he did it his boss was right there, and I chuckled to myself that he was just showing off that he knew all his boss's clients by their first names. I thought, good for him -- I'm happy to help him earn a few brownie points. But he's continued to do it everyday since then.

I don't imagine that I'm anything special to him. My guess is he does this with everyone who works out in that gym regularly. But that doesn't matter, because it's still nice and still makes me feel important and recognized and somehow human. Like at that gym I really am more than just a monthly credit to their bank account.

Because I don't like to exercise. I like to have exercised. Just like I don't always like to write, but I do like to have written something funny or pithy or profound. (Or rather, I would like to have written something funny or pithy or profound.) But exercising everyday is still a chore. Every morning I wake up and my first creative efforts, before I even open my eyes, go toward thinking of whether I have any legitimate excuse for not going to the gym after I drop my kids off at school.

Apparently last week I was blessed with a boon of creativity, because I managed to come up with convincing excuses on four out of five mornings. But all week long I was plagued with thoughts of Marlin wondering where I was. And this morning I was able to relieve myself of a backlog of guilt as I swiped my gym card past the card reader and Marlin said, "Good morning, Jane." And I was able to give an earnest "Good morning!" in reply, as if to say, "No worries, mate! I'm back!"

All this to say though, that Marlin's simple kindness means a lot to me. I think it's important to spend a minute appreciating that. I wonder how many people I could affect throughout my pedestrian day by simply looking them in the eyes and smiling as we exchange common pleasantries. By not being in such a hurry. By remembering that I'm interacting with human beings who take my money at a checkout, or take my shirts at the cleaners, or bring me my food at a restaurant. And their humanity is more important than my to-do list, or my time constraints, or the next thing I'm rushing off to.


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