Sunday morning the plumber came over. I met him once before when he came under the auspices of a plumbing company to fix a leaking pipe. I asked if he did private jobs and he said yes. We exchanged numbers because I cannot plumb and a house always needs one.
We agreed earlier in the week that anytime after 10.00 a.m. on Sunday he could come over. On Sunday morning, at 10.00 a.m. my phone rang, “I am at your home,” said the plumber.
“I am in the middle of something and I will be home in 30 minutes,” I replied. “Do you want to reschedule?”
“No,” he said, “take your time. I am here.”
Twenty minutes later I returned home. He got out of his truck, greeted me pleasantly and accessed the problem. Then he returned to his vehicle, got the tools he needed and started to work.
After 30 minutes he told me that he needed more bleach to clean up. I suggested that I could complete cleaning after he left, but he insisted, “No. You go get the bleach. I will clean up.”
It was only when I was at the cashier’s register, that I realized that an absolute stranger was in my house. I searched my head for panic, but I could feel no dread, it felt right that he was in the house, very logical and normal that I left him there to get the bleach.
As promised, he cleaned everything up. I paid him and he went on his way.
I could not help but compare and contrast the experiences that I had with two men over the weekend – one an Ivy League MBA with a long list of clients, and a plumber who attends night school.
My interaction with the plumber left me happy, comfortable, thinking that the world is full of wonderful people and grateful for having met one; while my interaction with the professional left me shocked, uneasy and wondering about professionalism.
Even with this juxtaposition, I knew that without the benefit of those experiences, I would have invited the wrong person to my dinner table; especially if I made the call based on Linked In profiles and Facebook posts.
When I reduce others to what they have done, the who they are becomes less obvious. When I get lost in what others have done, then the who they are becomes secondary.
As I truly connect with people the what fades in the background and the who they are takes center stage. When I observe what others do and listen to what they say and do not say then I experience them as they are.
Who do you invite for dinner? Do the whats they have done or the who they are drive the decision?