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When you’re in college, you quickly fall in love with Amazon. It mails you everything you need like magic at a slightly discounted rate.
I always purchased my textbooks through Amazon. It took a couple weeks to receive them all, but I saved hundreds of dollars compared to buying them from the University.
I lived on campus for my first two years, and always used the school as my mailing address. Support Services would send you an email when your packages arrived. Sometimes they did, at least. Sometimes I never got that helpful little email.
So I just started visiting the mailroom every morning before class.
“Any mail for me?”
It bummed me out when they couldn’t remember me. I became quite a nuisance coming in every day. Some days I came in twice a day to see if my books arrived with the afternoon Fedex. I was that student, eager to have her textbooks in hand.
I felt terribly annoying. Every time I walked up to their office, someone had to stop what they were doing to help me. They just always seemed to be busy at the copier and I interrupted.
I decided to thank them, and also subtly bribe them, for being so patient with me. I brainstormed ways to give them thanks, but landed on the easiest way to anyone’s heart. So, I made a couple dozen extremely chocolatey homemade cookies and delivered them early one morning to my mailroom friends Jeff, Eric, and Krista.
I felt silly handing them a platter of cookies at 8:30AM, but their faces lit up.
This was the first time I realized the importance of recognition. In school, professors give you constant feedback. You know exactly where you stand because they affirm you. They hold potlucks and thank you for showing up each day. They let you have class outside or take your final at the local Mexican restaurant to reward you.
But that doesn’t happen in the real world. There isn’t someone there to let you know you’re doing a good job or that you’re appreciated.
After baking that first batch of cookies, once a year I’d bake something to give to my mailroom friends. Cookies or muffins, just something sweet and simple to let them know at least one person wasn’t taking them for granted.
I no longer did so to get them to like me, although I hoped they liked me, but just because they deserved it.
During my last semester, I walked into the mailroom to pick up some books. There were three packages stuffed in a purple Concordia University Texas bag with my name on it. I thanked Krista, who greeted me by name by now, and leaned against the counter to chat before my class.
We started talking about how useful the purple bag would be now that Austin has a bag ban at grocery stores. This conversation morphed into talking about cosmetic bags. I recently had thrown away my eye-shadow-dusted, mascara-stained, 5-year-old make up bag and needed to buy a new one.
The next day, I received the familiar mailroom “A Package Arrived For You” email, but I had already received all of my textbooks. I walked to our mailroom not to find a package, but a present. Krista found a small make up bag and purchased it for me. She even handwrote me a note in a card wishing me blessings in my last semester.
I felt myself light up and want to cry all at once, because no one had ever done something so caring and unwarranted for me.
Krista is one of my unlikely heroes. I’d like to think that she didn’t give me a gift because I baked her cookies three years earlier, but that she gave out of the warmth of her heart. She saw an opportunity to show someone love and she took it.
I will never forget Krista because of the kindness she showed me two years ago. People don’t forget those who validate them and make them feel special.
I challenge you to reach out to someone this week who might otherwise be overlooked and show them kindness. Regardless of what people do or what minor role they may play in your life, take a moment to give to them out of the warmth of your heart.