Noticing someone is the human thing to do.
Curiosity and a stranger’s vulnerability lead to connection.
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The fading sun and our rumbling tummies cue a search for dinner. Festive music and Saturday evening chatter pour out of a nearby Mexican restaurant. Ryan and I walk over to see if we can grab a seat.
A smiling hostess leads us to a patio table overlooking the dusty Santa Rosa mountains of La Quinta, California.
Coming off a sixty-mile bike ride just an hour earlier, we feel famished and ready to devour some food. The waiter approaches then asks what we’re having.
“I’m debating between the chicken mole and chile colorado. What do you think?” Ryan asks.
“Chicken mole. You’ll love it.” The waiter responds confidently.
“I’m leaning chile verde but sounds like you know what’s good. What do you recommend?” I say.
“The #2 combination. I’ll have the kitchen make you a chile verde enchilada. That way, you can try two other items including our chile relleno. You’ll really enjoy the entire dish.”
He is right. Everything tastes delicious and fills us up.
When he returns, we praise him for his recommendations and great service.
“I’m Bobby by the way. What is your name?”
“Abiud. Thank you for asking. You know, when I meet good guys like you, it makes me feel important.”
“You are important!” Ryan and I respond in unison.
“You see, I used to date this woman. She is beautiful, smart, and successful. She’s a lawyer. In fact, she comes from a family of lawyers. As a waiter, I never felt good enough for her. But I like my job and it’s a pleasure to serve people who appreciate my work.”
“My wife’s family has a long history in hospitality. The work is challenging and rewarding. You do it well and should be proud. Thank you for taking care of us.” Ryan replies.
“Your name, A-be-youd. Where does it come from?” He adds.
“It’s not a typical Mexican name and kids would tease me about it when I was young. I used to hate it. But I learned to love it as I grew older. It’s a biblical name that means father of praise.”
The exchange tugs at my heart. It serves as a reminder that we all have our stories of shame, regret, vulnerability, and gratitude. We all have our stuff.
And sometimes we just want someone to notice.
You can be that someone.
A simple question to make him feel heard. An acknowledging nod to make her feel seen. A thoughtful reply to make them feel understood.
Your curious, warm, and compassionate gestures might make someone feel important.
And play a small part in making us all a little more human.
Don’t wait. Start small. Learn as you go.