Many mornings on my way to work and I’m stuck in traffic, I find my eyes drifting to the pedestrians rushing to the tram stop or to their office, often grasping either a coffee or a newspaper and listening to their ipods (who uses walkmans or discmans any more?). I watch these people and I can’t help but let envy creep in and dream. Dream of a day when I don’t have to push Scarlet along and balance a reusable coffee cup in my basket, hoping it doesn’t spill. I even envy these people at winter time when I am in the warm cocoon of my car and they are freezing their butts off.
I had one of those mornings last week on a very crisp, autumn morning. I was really envious and I felt like moaning to someone about it, but I know that’s not the thing to do, so I kept it to myself (until now that is) and I went on with my day.
I’d invited a client to come in that morning to talk about the peer support program and how he felt it was going for him. It’s important that volunteers are happy with their participant and happy with the progress they are making. We want our volunteers to feel empowered and proud about the work they do.
Anyway, I digress. This client came into his office, riding his big yellow scooter. I could hear his motor zooming and the beeper going off as he reversed to let someone past. He manoeuvred himself with ease and confidence, even if he did knock one of the doors on the way through to the office. He had a big smile on his face and he was cracking jokes as he reversed his scooter to park.
He can walk, not well and with a stick, but he can walk. And I watched him stumble towards the chair. We chatted about how we had been and eventually got around to why he was there.
He talked about how before the program he spent most of his time at home, thinking about himself too much and how he could improve himself.Then he realised that he had so many great life experiences that he had gotten through with a smile. He wanted to share these stories with someone else and show them that there is something positive out there and you can achieve things with the right attitude. Like he said, “sharing is caring”.
What really got to me was when he mentioned what he had learned from the participant. Despite his struggle every morning, getting ready to face the day, he could see that the participant had it a lot tougher than him and that he was capable of so much.
After our conversation, he got up from the chair, took hold of his stick and stumbled back to his scooter. On his way out, he yelled out to me “be happy!”
You know what, I may not be able to run to a tram stop while sipping a coffee, but I can help people achieve their dreams and help them feel good about themselves.
It’s moments like these when I truly love my job.