Being Present


“You could never work for Westjet” said the man at the counter.

I was working as an airline customer service agent and at that moment was absorbed in my work of frantically rebooking passengers who were going to miss their connections because of a delay. The man leaning against the counter was understandably tired and bored and had been there for about five minutes regaling me with funny stories. He needed an audience – I was busy and not able to listen attentively or laugh at the punchline.

In frustration he said, “You could never work for Westjet” and he moved away from the counter.

Looking up from the computer, I realized that he was frustrated with me for not paying adequate attention to him and he was going to make certain that I knew exactly how he felt. The Westjet dig was meant to imply that I had no sense of humour.

Yikes! Now that cut me deeply because I think I have a very good sense of humour.

Afterwards, I felt badly that I was not able to give him the attention he was seeking.

Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever wished that you had taken the time to listen to someone if only to validate them as a person?

When my kids were little, they would say to me, “You never look at me when I am talking!”. Confused, I would respond, “Of course I am looking at you! I am looking at you right now!”.

Apparently not. Apparently I had a bad habit of looking at their forehead or just above, not looking directly into their eyes……making no connection.

They felt invisible.

They would physically grab my face and bring it down level with theirs and lock into eye contact.

Why am I telling you this? Why would I tell you something that can be perceived as a fairly significant flaw in my character?

Because I recognize that flaw and I am now trying to be aware of my “presence”. I am still failing miserably but I am trying.

How about you? Are you present?

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