At 7:45 in the morning, I was riding the elevator to the 18th floor of my office building with a maintenance man who I cheerfully began making small talk with.
He asked how my day was going and as I turned off my podcast and popped the headphones from my ears, I smiled and said: “no complaints.”
He repeated my sentence. No complaints? Really?
And I thought about it. I was headed to a job that makes me think in a city that makes me dream.
Yep. I nodded. No complaints.
A few days later…
By all accounts it had been a terrible day. The downtown trains weren’t running at my station so I had to take a crowded bus with lots of other hurried commuters. There was a ton of traffic and by the time I got to a train station that could take me the rest of the way downtown, the subways were packed and the businessmen and women of New York were not pleased.
I was fifteen minutes late, and if you know me at all, you know the latest I’ve ever been for something in my life was 3 minutes early.
Work was busy – with a steady stream of emails, tasks, assignments, and a to-do list longer than the hours of the day.
I clocked out and began my commute home. The trains were so crowded, I had to wait for a couple trains to come and go before I could get on one that had even a tiny ounce of space. I plodded home, exhausted and laced up my shoes for a run.
That’s when I got to thinking.
By most people’s standards, that’s a pretty bad day. Late for work, train trouble, lots of stuff flying around me at work, general fatigue. But when I got home that evening, I was filled with an unmistakable bounty of overflowing joy.
I was happy.
I was happy the trains were messed up this morning. It meant I got to ride the bus and watch the sunrise from above ground. Also, because I had service on my phone (as most of the time in the subway you don’t), I was able to text my mom during my commute.
I loved having nonstop emails and tasks and assignments at work. It challenged my time management skills and made me feel like I was doing well as a productive and capable employee. Also, being busy made the time fly by so by the time it was the end of the day, I felt like I had just walked in.
Getting delayed on the way home was nice too. It gave me more time to listen to my TED Talks pod casts and just so happened that it timed out just as I was exiting the station.
You see, by a lot of societal expectations, I should have had a lot of complaints. But truly, if the worst thing to happen to me that day was a delayed train, than I think I’m doing just fine.
For anybody looking for an act of service this week? Keep a smile on your face. Carry that infectious joy with you everywhere you go. You’ll realize that those little things that we sometimes get worked up about are just that – little things.