Remembering a New York Elevator Operator

Do you ever wonder if your day-to-day activities matter? Ever think your job is meaningless? Let me assure you, folks DO notice. And you ARE making a difference.

I still carry the sweet memory of a New York worker who didn’t know the example he provided. My two teens and I had moved away from all that was familiar a couple years after my young husband’s cancer death, and I had taken an editorial job an hour north of New York City. At the end of our first year there, we ventured down to Broadway to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a memorable day of cheering and clapping along with thousands of other families as we watched floats and marching bands and giant balloons that long had accompanied our holiday, but only through TV. The best part of the day, though, was the lesson I learned from a subway elevator operator.

For long hours each day, he was trapped in that box under the city streets, breathing air thick with fumes and dirt. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d been grumpy as we boarded his elevator. But he greeted us cheerfully and asked where we were from.

As he delivered us to our requested level, he cheerfully wished us well and asked us to come again.

As we boarded the subway train on the lower level, we could hear him singing hymns as he strolled in front of the elevator and waited for his next passengers.

I was amazed that rather than allow himself to be bitter about his job or his lot in life, he chose to bring freshness and joy to those who shared his day, even for those few minutes.

What a gentle challenge for me! What if, instead of fretting about my struggles, I chose to be like him? What if I gave others reason to smile?

Have you ever had YOUR day brightened by someone who just was doing his or her job? Have YOU found a way to make a difficult task more bearable? What do you hope others see as they watch YOU at work? Remember, moment by moment, we DO make a difference.

About sandrapaldrich

Sandra P. Aldrich, author and popular speaker, loves the Lord, family and all things Appalachian. Isaiah 41:9-10
This entry was posted in appreciation, counting blessings, encouragement, Macy's Day Parade. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Remembering a New York Elevator Operator

  1. Lynn Wallace says:

    I left a comment, but Microsoft interfered. I don’t know it it went through.


    • Lynn Wallace says:

      Thank you, Sandra, that blog on remembering. I remembered when a widow shone with radiance at her husband’s funeral. I didn’t understand until the Lord took my husband home suddenly, leaving me with a 14-year-old daughter. I wept as the violinist played some of my husband’s favorite hymns while my heart filled with joy.


  2. Thank you, Lynn, for the beautiful image of the shining window. I’m sorry you and I walk widowhood’s sad road. But how grateful we are that the Lord walks with us. Even as I reply, I’m praying for you and your daughter.


  3. Wilna says:

    Sandra, aren’t moments like that magical? I remember leaving work one day (in a rather grumpy mood, I might add) and stepping out onto the sidewalk. I hadn’t gone very far when I looked up to see a very well dressed, older woman coming my way. As she passed, she smiled a beautiful smile…at me! That smile tugged up the corners of my lips before I even knew what was happening! I’ve no idea who she was, but bless her for making the world a little better, brighter place 🙂
    And, bless you for doing the same!
    Lovely story! Thanks for sharing 🙂


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