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Sharing Life’s Best Lessons By Shay Seaborne

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By Shay Seaborne

Dinners together with my children offer time for lively discussion, stories, and talking about our days. They often like to hear what went on at the office, and that’s how they learned about Craig*—a cop who works in my building. He is very strange. People often wonder what’s wrong with Craig.

Each day I go to Craig’s station to collect the office mail. For the first six months the gray haired man just stared at me, fish-faced. He didn’t talk, didn’t smile and showed virtually no facial expression. There was little sense of his being human. I didn’t even know Craig’s name until I had been in the office about a year, and that was only because someone else told me. Still, I treated him like a human being, saying “hi,” smiling, making eye contact, and thanking him for the mail. Sometimes, I would ask, with an exaggeratedly tired sigh, “Are there any checks or love notes, at last?” No response.

Policeman

Each day I go to Craig’s station to collect the office mail.

One day, Craig walked the mail over to my office and brought it in to my desk. Surprised, shocked, even, I looked him in the eye, smiled warmly, and thanked him very sincerely for his thoughtfulness. Craig began bringing me the mail on other occasions, then more regularly, and with increasing frequency.

Some of the other cops started to tease me, “Oh, is Craig your BFF now? He brings you the mail all the time!” I would laugh and say, “I don’t know why he bothers,” but, silently, I acknowledged the secret: kindness grows, and comes back in unexpected ways.

Several times in the last few months, Craig and I have actually had a conversation. Nothing deep, nothing long, but a conversation. He brings me the mail every day that he works, and, despite his very peculiar strangeness, each time, I reward him with acknowledgment of his humanity. I give him my smile, and my sincere thanks, and a look in the eye that says, like the Hindu greeting, “Namaste”, which means “the Divine in me acknowledges and honors the Divine in You.”

Recently, when I greeted Craig upon his entry with the mail, he broke into a broad, genuinely warm smile. I had not imagined him capable of such expression. He was literally glowing! I beamed back at him just as brightly, and thanked him for his thoughtfulness and kindness.

The other day I was able to tell my children what’s wrong with Officer Craig. I found out that, some years ago in the line of duty, he was shot. In the head.

Craig survived his injury, of course, but he has not been the same person since. Like I tell my children, one can never know another person’s challenges or pain, so there is good reason to be kind to everyone. As my children have seen, kindness grows, and it comes back to you in unexpected ways.


*Name changed to protect privacy.

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