Where has our empathy gone? How can you feel for the Guatemalan biking delivery worker when your interaction is a two second door bell ring, handoff, tuck and run with no words exchanged?
I’m a culprit like my millennial brethren and spend way too much time with my head down, interacting with my personal screen. My dad used to yell at people on the street, “look up” OR “smile, it won’t kill you;” both elicited strange facial responses…
I had the pleasure of taking a long Uber ride a few weeks ago in Philadelphia and instead of a silent 30 minute ride with my head deep in my instagram feed, I elected to explore the mind of someone remarkable. Insert Bhabindra, a late 30’s immigrant from Nepal, part time line cook, part time Uber driver.
For half an hour I asked him question after question about his life and his upbringing in Nepal. I pulled up google maps and zoomed in on his hometown in Nepal and called out the names of streets and surrounding towns; I’d never seen so much elation from simple name recognition. He described in detail his heroic immigration story, his long 18 hour work days in the US, his sleepless nights or quick naps in his car and his biennial trips back to Nepal to see his wife and kids. Despite the apparent water treading lifestyle, he was beyond thankful and appreciative of his life. How can this man be so happy? How can someone be so positive that is working tirelessly and selflessly to provide for his family? How amazing is it to see pure joy in someone else’s eyes merely based on the recognition of their birth place — a nostalgic moment to bring Bhabindra back to familiarity? How incredible it can be to learn about someone new!
Introspective gears ignited: How can I honestly ever feel unhappy with the life I lead knowing what other people have been through? How can I look myself in the mirror and complain about anything ever?
We hear these stories all the time. The uber driver working tirelessly to provide for his family, the factory worker working tirelessly to pay off his unreasonable medical bills, the single mom working three jobs to afford the basic life necessities for her family. Many of us know how lucky we are but we don’t always acknowledge it — It’s not until you look up and hear the stories of others’ lives when it puts everything in your life into grateful perspective.