Small mo­ments make big im­pact on our days

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Alex LazarusKlein is the rabbi of Con­gre­ga­tion Shir Shalom in Wil­liamsville.

The late, great Buf­falo­nian Tim Russert once wrote: “small mo­ments? It is of­ten those lit­tle ges­tures – a know­ing look, a pat on the back, an un­ex­pected kind­ness – that make a big im­pres­sion …”

These mo­ments of­ten go un­no­ticed and un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated; the countless times ev­ery day, where one per­son gives a lit­tle of them­selves to make our day bet­ter.

I think of my trip to the lo­cal Dunkin’ Donuts, where the drive-through teller, a hip African-Amer­i­can gen­tle­man, al­ways greets me with the big­gest smile. In all my time in Western New York, I have never seen him un­happy. I would go there even I were not or­der­ing cof­fee.

Or, how about at CVS, where the de­light­ful woman at the counter al­ways knows my name, and even my birth­day. She seems to have my pre­scrip­tion ready even be­fore I have to ask for it.

Speak­ing of phar­ma­cies, I so ap­pre­ci­ate the older cashier at the Wal­greens down the street, who re­minds me about what phar­ma­cies used to be like be­fore they be­came cor­po­rate. He takes time to talk to ev­ery cus­tomer, gen­uinely in­ter­ested in their lives.

Then there is the thought­ful woman who works in the babysit­ting room at Weg­mans who al­ways asks about my kids, even the one who has aged out of be­ing able to use the room.

These are peo­ple who I may see only briefly, but who make a real dif­fer­ence in my life.

There are oth­ers who I know bet­ter, who I may use for one spe­cific ser­vice, but pro­vide so much more mean­ing in my life. Peo­ple like, John, my chi­ro­prac­tor who I can chat with about sports while he is ad­just­ing my back. Or Gabe my hairstylist, who I can have a deep in­tel­lec­tual con­ver­sa­tion with about mu­sic and life as he snips at my curls. Or Nancy in my of­fice, who seems to com­plete an as­sign­ment even be­fore I have as­signed it to her, never com­plain­ing about any­thing.

I want to tell all these peo­ple, and so many more, how much bet­ter my life is be­cause of them.

Each in­ter­ac­tion we have with any given per­son has the ca­pac­ity of mak­ing an im­pact. It all adds up. I have come to re­al­ize that mean­ing has noth­ing to do with salary or sta­tus. It has to do with the good we put out into the world. I am in­spired by the many peo­ple I come in con­tact with who un­der­stand this in their kishkes (Jewish for in­testines).

As a rabbi, I used to look at things like sy­n­a­gogue mem­ber­ship or com­mu­nal awards, as mark­ers of pro­fes­sional suc­cess. I have come to re­al­ize that I can make so much more of a dif­fer­ence in the small mo­ments than I can in the large ones, the pri­vate ones, as op­posed to those in the pub­lic eye.

I am priv­i­leged to be there at times when peo­ple are most vul­ner­a­ble, when they are sick and alone, when they have just faced a loss. I take this re­spon­si­bil­ity very se­ri­ously and know how much is at stake. A lit­tle bit of kind­ness can go a long way.

When I see some­one strug­gling, I try to do my part to al­le­vi­ate their pain. By pay­ing at­ten­tion to those around me, by treat­ing ev­ery­body with the re­spect they de­serve, I hope to pass on the kind­ness given to me by oth­ers. It is, af­ter all, the way I would want to be treated my­self.

So, next time you have an op­por­tu­nity to go the ex­tra mile for some­one, do it. As Russert wrote, it is the small mo­ments that make a big im­pres­sion.

These are peo­ple who I may see only briefly, but who make a real dif fer­ence in my life.

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