I was at a grocery store the other day picking up a few items. As I made my way through the checkout lane, the cashier was speaking with the bagger about an experience she’d had when a customer questioned whether she had given the correct change. The cashier looked at me and smiled and closed her story by stating she has served many years at this grocery store and is a veteran with a lot of experience. She then said to me, “You look so young, you can’t possibly be a veteran of anything.”
That is so funny, I thought! First, that she thinks I look young (it’s all relative, I now realize) but also that she couldn’t conceive that I’m a veteran. So, I smiled broadly and proudly told her that indeed I was a veteran and had served on active duty in the Air Force from 1988 till 2011. I then pulled out my military retirement ID card and showed it to her and the bagger.
What a change in reaction! She immediately thanked me for my service and said she hadn’t realized. The bagger was a young man and shared that he has been thinking about joining the Air Force. Of course, I highly recommended serving his nation in any branch of the military, but yes I’m partial to the Air Force, so I said that should be his first choice.
So, what do you ‘see’ when you meet someone for the first time? For most of us, we rely on our eyes to see the person and on our preconceived notions to make our determination about him or her. I cannot say who the cashier thought I was when she met me, but I do know that she didn’t ‘see’ a veteran. Not yet. I helped her to see me a little more clearly. I hope I also helped her rely a little less on those preconceived notions.
So, today’s thought is to try and dig a little deeper when you meet or interact with someone. There is something about them that is special and unique. In that same vein, there is something special and unique about you! So, be proud of your accomplishments and do not hesitate to share what is important to you and why you are unique!
In honor of all those who serve now and who have served our great nation, I wish you the absolute best Veterans Day!
To your success,
HRSS Senior Consultant