Her words pierced through the phone, dripping with disappointment and resentment:
“Dashmeet, you’ve spoiled all my evening plans. My husband and kids have been waiting for hours and I have not been able to reach you. This is so frustrating.”
This voice was of my fellow colleague, and I felt so many emotions at once.
Angry. Confused. Ashamed. Helpless.
After composing myself, I took another few minutes to understand what bothered her.
Attempt 1: Had I unknowingly offended her by doing something?
Attempt 2: Perhaps, I did nothing and that offended her?
Attempt 3: I was only engrossed in a marathon of work calls. Maybe it was that?
Turns out, the third time’s a charm indeed.
It bothered her that I wasn’t available to respond promptly to her for the past 45 minutes.
In that moment, my own evening was far from ideal.
I was knee-deep in chaos and swimming in the air of stress.
It was a perfect storm of feeling overwhelmed and failing at everything.
We’ve all had those days, right?
But amidst my own struggles, her remark hit me like a punch to the gut. It made me question whether I had consciously made an effort to ruin her plans (spoiler alert: I hadn’t).
The absurdity of it all left me feeling numb. I kept listening to her rant about her own day.
After the call ended, it took me some more time to gather myself and continue my work day.
Between those minutes, I started overthinking. And it suddenly struck me.
I don’t have the backstage pass to other people’s lives. And neither does she.
There is only so much you can do when you can only see the tip of the iceberg.
So, why not cut people some slack?
Why not sprinkle a bit of kindness into our interactions?
After all, kindness is like that hidden treasure you stumble upon — it costs $0.00, but its value is beyond any number.
Life has a funny way of throwing us curveballs, and sometimes those curveballs collide with other people’s plans.
In those moments, it helps to be compassionate. Extend a helping hand (or lend an ear).
Even though her sharp remark blindsided me, it now reminds me that kindness and empathy are vital. They are the ultimate key to unlocking any connection and bond as humans; to be there for each other.
Every person we meet carries their own invisible baggage, fighting battles you may never fully understand.
You literally have the power to make or break someone’s day (and probably lives too).
Do not take it for granted.
I know I don’t.