In honor of Happiness Happens month, I decided to revive a piece I wrote in 2009 about a very special person who was the inspiration for this story. I think of him now and then, and wonder if he is still whistling – somehow, I think he is!
This was a typical evening, long day at work, back at the apartment, dinner was finished and I was still working. I then remembered I had an early call in the morning but had noticed that the snack counter in my training room was low so time to replenish it. Given I had a 7 am call it seemed best to head to the nearby 24 hour grocery store.
I pulled into the parking lot, went in and spent about 15 minutes picking up my favorite boxes of 100 calories snack packages. I like to have snacks around, but healthy is a good approach! As I headed back to my car a driver pulled up beside me in a van. I started unloading my cart and he came around whistling happily. “Can I help you with your groceries” he asked with a smile. He stood about 5″10, mid thirties, dressed in blue jeans and a blue shirt with rolled up sleeves. He smiled constantly and as he walked over, he said “I’ll even take your cart so you don’t have to put it back” he said.
I looked at him and listening to him whistle. “Well, you seem like a happy person at 10 o’clock at night” I said to him.
“Well, I’m almost finished my shift” he said.
“OH – so you are happy you are almost done” I mentioned heading to my car.
“Oh no, I’m just happy” he said smiling.
“You must love your job” I asked a bit intrigued.
“Well, I’m kids’ dreams and parents’ nightmare” he said laughing.
At this point, I was both curious and a bit apprehensive.
“So, what kind of job do you do?” I asked.
“You’ll see in a moment” he said, opening the back door of his van.
He started pulling out gum ball machines – the type you see in grocery stores or department stores. He just kept pilling them up in my empty cart, and all this time smiling and whistling.
“I have a great job” he said, and a bit more seriously “I don’t make much money, but I get to sleep in as long as I want, I only start at 2. I get to work when the sun goes down, and here in San Antonio, that is a good thing. ”
“I meet lots of people, and it’s an easy job….”
He laughed and turned to me and said “I hope you like your job just as well; life is too short not to be happy!” and he smiled again, waved and wished me a good night.
I have to admit the entire encounter barely lasted about 5 minutes. Somehow, I knew this was one of those encounters that would touch me.
Here was someone who seemed to be one of the most joyful person I had ever seen.
To many, a job lugging candy and bubble gum machines to stores after stores could be seen as a boring job. Yet, to hear him whistle, and see him smile and listen to him speak gave me the feeling that he was likely the best in his role, in San Antonio, perhaps in Texas, maybe even in the U.S. of A.!
He took pride in what he did, he was happy and just seemingly content… and for a moment, I tried to remember the last time I saw someone so content and peaceful and joyous! – I’m still trying to remember…
It seems these days I have been really trying to determine what it is that makes me “whistle” – what makes me smile, even a few hours before ending my “shift” (if my shift really ever has an end..) I thought about those around me – when was the last time I hear someone hum, or whistle or just smile so big that we wonder what one must be thinking to be so happy…
Sometimes, life hands us these moments to make us reflect. We get caught up in the hustle, the rush, the stress, the urgency, the muti-tasking and we may not realize how much we get swept in the motion like being caught in a vortex. We don’t realize the pace we keep, the level of continued stress we accept as tolerable, the amount of moments when we need to take deep breaths to get clarity in the midst of chaos.
I stood by my car as i saw him make his way into the store; his cart overfilled with dispensing machines full of gums, toys and trinkets and as he made his way I could still hear him whistle and nod to those passing by.
One has to wonder, are we in a whistling mind set or are we so focused on everything else we don’t feel the joy of what we do, in a way that makes us sing, or hum or smile ?
When was the last time YOU WHISTLED?????