Personal isolationism

In the current economic climate, countries may be tempted to engage in isolationism, but there is also a personal form of isolationism which we ought to avoid.

It's easy to ignore someone who is just trying to do a job

It's easy to ignore someone who is just trying to do a job

I was walking down a city street the other day and it was lined with people handing out cards and pamphlets. I stopped for a moment to watch how the passersby treated them. Bearing in mind that these people were not asking for money or time, it struck me that they were treated with the same indifference beggars often experience. To the general population, these were invisible people. Yet they were just trying to do a job. Perhaps their only way of getting a meal at a restaurant was to hand out pamphlets for that same restaurant.

Everyone likes to feel their work is appreciated, no matter how seemingly trivial. Everyone needs to have their existence acknowledged. How soul destroying it must be for those people to stand there for hours on end having their efforts ignored.

One fellow I was observing was ignored or rejected by everyone he approached. He was relatively young but dressed in worn-out clothes and walked with a limp. He was holding out his hand, trying to catch anyone’s eye. I took the pamphlet while he was looking at someone else and that caught him by surprise, but he smiled and thanked me.

A few metres down the road was an old man handing out fliers for a restaurant. He looked at least seventy. He, too, was being ignored. I took a pamphlet from him. He thanked me also.

Everyone I took a pamphlet from thanked me. That struck me and I felt they were thanking me more for acknowledging their existence than for accepting the flier. I made their day a little lighter.

I didn’t keep the fliers. They were destined to line a bin anyway, so what did it cost me to let them pass through my hands for a few seconds? Nothing, but in the process I like to think that I helped make someone’s tedious job a bit more bearable.

Things are going to be harder for many of us over the next couple of years than they have been for the past several and we are going to get through it more quickly and more easily if we avoid this personal form of isolationism. We need to remember that we depend on each other and that includes the old man handing out pamplets for a Chinese buffet.

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

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