07 July 2011

Don't sweat the small stuff?


Small stuff matters. It is those things that are supposed to happen automatically but sometimes do not. And everyone assumes they are obvious. It might be something as obvious as covering one's mouth when they sneeze or asking to be excused from the lunch table to go take a call. While no one gets hurt if this does not happen, someone will obviously loose some credibility when they do not do these things.
Social gatherings are a perfect place to watch out for this. Weddings are specially good. There was this one that provided an ideal spot. I arrived early and had quite some time to stay at the background and watch. A good way to while away time, you might say. The bride was a colleague of mine. And so I was there when people begun to arrive. Soon a van arrived. The people in it  had spent many hours on the road to get there. As expected, they stepped out of the vehicle tired and in dire need of some refreshments.
The younger of the group were courteous enough to help out the elder ones. And even show them where they could rest. And the ladies came dressed as they always will for weddings. In colorful regalia and all wearing smiles. In all it was  beautiful to watch all the happy people chatting and laughing together. At the venue were some ushers assigned to welcome and show guests to their sitting place. There was this particular lady who was very enthusiastic on this role. Very friendly and warm. I had taken an instant liking to her and also noticed that she was the very model of a modern town girl.
The minute she saw the newly arrived group, she walked up to them, welcoming them heartily. But that was not well reciprocated. I did not have the benefit of understanding their dialect but the looks were rather telling. The young people were glaring at the usher as the older women whispered amongst themselves. The elderly of the group actually looked away. Those who could were actually all looking at her with obvious disdain.
It was obvious that these people who had just arrived from the village were beholding something new. One lady in the group spoke out loudly and I managed to get the contentious issue. You see, the usher was dressed in what these people considered an indecent dress. It was way too short their liking. At least by their standards. She could have worn something longer, they said. What appeared usual to the town people was not so to these people from the village. And it nearly spoilt the mood of the wedding.
Small stuff declares that we mind not just what we think of ourselves but care for others who do not share our mindset. Or do. When someone queue jumps at the banking hall, no one gets hurt but someone does mind. Even when a driver speeds through the green light. And sometimes it does get humorous. Like this time I was going to visit some friends. I boarded a matatu that was all quiet and nice. But not for long. As soon as we were out of town, the loud music begun. And I mean real loud. And everyone was at ease. Even an elderly, respectable lady sitting right in front of me. Grey hair and all. And just when I was beginning to think that the matatu guys could at least spare her hearing, I noticed something. She seemed undisturbed and calm. Like she was in her own world. Then I saw the reason of her calm. She had on these little yellow stoppers in her ears. She must have fixed them on as soon as the music begun. Meaning she carried them in her bag. I begun to laugh. If you've ever tried to laugh politely in a public place, with no visible reason to show for it then you understand. I laughed at the ingenuity of this lady but more at the way she looked with the little yellows sticking out of her ears. It appears she knew better than to disregard the small stuff.
I am told even at interview panels those interviewing look out for the small stuff. Like the way the interviewee walks into the room. Confidence does show. Even  the way one sits up tells a story. The kind of bag they carry. And lately the phone one sports. It is no longer just how well you can express yourself and justify your credentials. And experience or lack of it.
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