A couple of rows behind my cubicle in office sits my colleague Mike. I hardly know him at all, except for the "Hi" that we exchange whenever we come across each other and when he needs a little help on the printer which is right next to my cubicle. I don't really think that he knows my name.
Everyone of course knows Mike. He's the guy forever smiling and cheerfully chatting on his earpiece as he handles customer service complaints for the company. All the prettiest women in the office know him and make it a point to smile and talk to him whenever he passes by. Everyone I know is extra hearty in their greetings to him and I really cannot hold that against them. Because Mike is restricted to and moves around in a wheelchair. He is totally incapable of using his legs or even of standing up.
When the printer on top of the table gives out an error message, Mike cannot see it and has to request me to sort out the problem for him. I do my best to treat this request as naturally as possible but I feel his hurt. To be unable to do what normal people don't even need to think about. Walk, run, look out of the window. And to keep such a astounding level of positivity in his life, to take each day as it comes head-on and with a grin. Does the person on the other end of the telephone line cribbing about a late delivery or some other insignificant issue know the enormity of the challenge faced by the person handling his complaint? On the other hand, I am sure Mike doesn't want his customer to know any of these details. He's a proud man giving his 100%, doing as well if not better than his able-bodied counterparts.
If he could stand, he would've dwarfed us all. At the end of a rough day, I juxtapose my pressing issues against his. Don't tell me that he has to smile because he has no other option. I stare in awe at the strength of his spirit and in shame at the petty complaints of my life. In no way, does this guy deserve my sympathy. He merely commands my respect!