Friday, January 13, 2012

Candy Dish

I sometimes keep a small candy dish at work.  Right now, it has a variety of Hershey's Kisses and Rolos on it.  I like my candy dish because there are people who will spy it from the hallway and pop in just to grab a little treat.

I've always found it curious when I fill up my candy dish at the end of the day and it's half empty the next morning.  And there are times, when I'm in a not so great mood, that it maybe irks me a bit.

For me, the candy dish is there as a method of connecting with someone else.  I like knowing that Cathy likes Rolos and Deb likes Cherry Hershey's Kisses.  I like the connection between me and the candy grabber when they grab a treat and groan and say "Oh, I need this right now!"  When the candy is half gone in the morning, I miss out on those connections and I'm left wondering who it is that's enjoying the treats anyway.

But whenever I catch my inward disappointment at the missing candy, I remember this StoryCorps from NPR.

I'm not saying that the cleaning company we use has employees that are bringing their kids in and those little kids are dancing around in their jammies, munching on chocolates in my office.  But the image does make me grin.

For me, it serves as a reminder that I don't know someone else's story.  I don't know who is coming to my office overnight to snag a treat.  Maybe it is someone who is just selfish and wants a big handful of free candy.

But maybe...

It's a mom who is back to work for the first time since having her first baby.

It's a man who recently lost a loved one.

It's a person cheating on their diet.

It's someone who has an abusive spouse.

It's someone who is facing challenges with their kids.

It's someone who is hungry.

I'm often fascinated by the idea of other people's stories.  And my candy dish is another way that I find myself wondering about the people I might somehow impact.

Do you ever think back to your childhood and have random memories of strangers or acquaintances- either witnessing or experiencing a kindness or seeing someone interact with another person?  Sometimes I think back to those people who left an impression on my life and wonder if they remember me, too.

I remember, for example, a next door neighbor in our apartment complex who we didn't know well but knew well enough.  She didn't live there as long as we did- maybe only a year.  But I remember she was adult and single and I thought she was pretty "hip."  She took me out to lunch one day- just as a treat.  For some reason, we were in a big hotel in downtown Lexington, I think.  She took me into the gift shop and pointed to this corner that was loaded up with stuffed animals and she said, "Pick any one that you want.  It's yours."  I still have the unicorn I selected.  I don't remember our neighbor's name and I can't quite place her face.  But that act of kindness left an impression on me.

Maybe, just maybe, my little candy dish is leaving some sort of positive impression on someone else.  It's kind of silly to think that a tiny little piece of chocolate could really mean something big, right?  But maybe... maybe it's will be part of someone's memories when they look back a decade or two from now.  Maybe it brings a smile to someone's face.  Maybe it soothes a little bit of hurt.

Or maybe it just tastes good and it's free.  Either way, I'm going to keep reminding myself that the someone who is taking my candy overnight is still a person with their own story.



Rebecca said...

This post reminded me of a video that I'm going to share with you right here...I hope the link works

Rebecca said...

This post reminded me of a video that I'm going to share with you right here...I hope the link works

Dillypoo said...

I broke my leg when I was 10. I remember being on crutches and waiting for my mom at a store when an older woman approached and handed me a $10 bill. She told me to buy something fun to do while I was healing. My first experience with random acts of kindness, and one that stayed with me always!

Bill Lisleman said...

I was about to leave the same video clip that Rebecca dropped off. It's a good one that I posted on the blog.
An act of kindness - I'll never forget helping a stranger in a wheelchair at college - it didn't end very well but I tried.
I've been blessed with acts of kindness. Simple ones can be the best. Just spending time at a coffee shop and sharing stories can be wonderful.

Eternal Lizdom said...

I'd be interested to hear that story, Bill!

Love that video- I'd seen it before and really enjoy it.

Call Me Cate said...

Amazing post, Liz. It's a great reminder to think beyond the obvious reaction of being upset someone ate your candy overnight. I love to imagine the stories behind that kind of action.

Also, thank you for reminding me that I REALLY need to be listening more often to StoryCorps.

Alison said...

I remember driving in the long entry road to my apartment complex in graduate school, and stopping to pick up two women and a child who were walking in from the bus stop at the road. I didn't get my first car 'til I was 20 years old, so I knew the inconvenience of depending on others for a ride.

Boy, were those women shocked when I stopped! I had to convince them to get in--I'm sure if I hadn't been a woman alone, they wouldn't have. But I hope their kid remembers that it's possible to do a kind deed for no reason at all.

Julie said...

A wise woman that I know made sure that there was always a full candy dish in her ill husband's room when he had to be moved to a nursing home.
She knew that would insure that the staff came into his room frequently, thus ensuring awareness if he was in obvious distress, as he was unable to use a call light appropriately.

Garret said...

Julie, great idea!

I used to keep a candy bowl full of non-chocolates. It had to be non-chocolates because then I'd eat them. I'd get the Kiddie mix that had the Smarties and such. I don't recall many coworkers who I didn't "know" take any though. I think typically they'd take some when I wasn't around.

I need to do the candy thing again. It does inspire coworkers to come visit especially since I'm down on the end of our department now.