It was eerily quiet in the Barrack's Shopping Center Post Office lobby. I glanced towards the counter room to make sure it was still open. The clerks worked busily behind the counter. I shifted my attention toward the only sound, a man with a large box of business envelopes, somewhere over 500 I would guess. I sat my box down at the other end of the counter and resumed my task at hand. The gifts fit neatly into the postage box I had selected and I was scanning the room for a pen.
I noticed one on the other counter so I headed over to write my note and complete the address label. There was a nagging thought in my mind. "I should ask that guy if he wants help with his envelopes."
I continued what I was doing, reminded of a similar situation the previous year where a young man was stuffing wedding invitations into a large stack of envelopes one day when I was at the laundry mat in Black Mountain, NC. The previous occasion I did talk with the guy about the wedding invitations, but I didn't ask him if he wanted help.
I advanced through the glass door labeled "Enter" and proceeded to the clerk to ship my box. After the exchange was over, my mind was still urging me to ask him if he wanted help. I wasn't really sure how to go about it. I didn't want to seem awkward, but I was genuinely ready to spend the next 20 minutes helping this guy put stamps on envelopes.
"Hey, you've got a lot of envelopes there," I chimed as I walked through the counter room door labeled "Exit." I've always defaulted to stating the obvious.
"Yep." he replied with a half laugh.
"Do you want some help with those?" I inquired.
He looked a bit surprised, but said no thanks. "You sure?" I extended the offer again.
"Nah, thanks though. It's for work, so they're paying me to do it." He smiled.
I laughed. "Well at least you're getting paid. Have a good night," I replied. He smiled again and told me to do the same.
Someone turned down my help
It really makes no difference whether an offer for help is accepted or not. It is the Small Act of extending the offer to someone who might want it or need it, that counts. Perhaps it will trigger some question in his mind. Why did she ask me if I wanted help?
I try to envision that when I offer someone my help with simple, seemingly insignificant things, that it may inspire them to consider doing the same, or better yet, consider what significant ways they can help too.
I've spent so much time inside my own head that it's refreshing to step out of it and offer someone a hand. It's liberating to pay enough attention to what's going on around me, as opposed to my string of mental monotony, and find those opportunities to offer assistance when they arise.