This post is a little different from my usual topics. These thoughts have been going around in my brain for the last couple weeks and I feel a need to get them out. This blog is called Teri’s Take, after all, and this is my take on some recent events.
Last Monday I spent the day at a conference for caregivers of people with Alzheimers. The guest speaker was David Troxel MPH. He has written many books and speaks around the country on his method for taking care of people with dementia. He calls it the best friend approach. When someone has Alzheimers they can get very anxious, frustrated and upset when they do not recognize the people who are there to help them. Mr. Troxel advocates for getting to know something about the person so they can be approached with familiar information. For example, there is a difference between saying, “here is your coffee, Mrs. Smith, how do you take it?” and “here is your coffee, Mrs. Smith, with one cream and one sugar just the way you like it.” The first approach sounds like it comes from a stranger and the second from someone who knows her. During the course of his presentation he explained how he has his staff find out ten things about each patient. Anything from favorite colors, music, activities, family, career, etc. can provide information that will help put the patient at ease when they are addressed.
This made me stop and think about recent events that have made the news. Things like the terror attacks in Europe and Africa, the shooting at the church in South Carolina and the uproar over the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. How different would our world be if we all took the time to find out ten things about others? Could we get to know someone as a human being rather than define them as a religion or race or orientation? Could we look past calling someone a sinner or non-believer or seeing them as inferior if we took the time to realize we are all human inside?
One of my management jobs was at a downtown restaurant. In the business we refer to the front of house and back of house. The FOH is everything from the kitchen forward and BOH is the rest. In the morning I would walk to the office, passing by many of the BOH staff, such as the prep cooks and dish washers. I would say good morning and occasionally make small talk. A few weeks after I started, the kitchen manager came to me and told me her staff loved me! I was happy, but why did she sound so surprised? She told me that I was the first FOH manager they had dealt with who actually took the time to acknowledge them. That floored me. They were so used to people treating them like they were different or beneath them that when I came along and just said hello it made a positive impression. I never looked at them as anything other than fellow human beings trying to make a living. And I was an exception to the rule!
So often we jump to conclusions about people based on our assumptions. For instance, were you surprised when I mentioned the kitchen manager was a woman? Yep, two women managers in the same restaurant. I often dealt with people who thought I was a hostess or server. One time a woman asked me about one of my new male managers asking if I liked the new boss. When I responded I was his boss she looked at me incredulously and was speechless.
My point today is underneath it all we are all just hoping for the same things and we need to look beyond how someone looks, what religion they identify with or who they are attracted to. As I looked around the conference last week I saw people of many ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, ages, etc. We were there because we have a loved one dealing with a cruel disease and that is the most important thing. Please do not call someone a sinner because they were born with different desires. Please do not assume if someone believes in a different god they are out to destroy us. Please don’t look at someone’s color and be afraid. No more labels! Bad people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, religions, etc. The majority of us are trying to find happiness and love in the short time we are here. Say good morning to everyone and perhaps take the time to ask ten questions that will allow you to get to know the people you come across.