There aren’t any unimportant people. Some people are just important in ways we don’t know.
I levered myself out of the car at North Shore Hospital. The man who came to help was too old to be called young, too young to be middle aged. He was not particularly distinctive. If I saw him next week he might look vaguely familiar, but I wouldn’t remember where I had seen him before.
When he saw I had trouble walking he brought a wheel chair. He kept up a friendly conversation the whole time as he took me to the right desk.
After the scan that brought me there was over I saw him again. He spoke to everyone that came past, tome with a nod and a word, others at more length.
“You talk to a lot of people in your job,” I said.
“I talk to all kinds of people. Some are okay with being here. But some are not. They’re scared, or they’re worried. Bad things have happened to them, or they think they might. And I’m the first person they see when they come here. I set the tone for their visit here.”
My first thought about this was a cynical one. Whoever gave him an orientation for this job was a good salesman. He’s bought the whole idea, hook, line and sinker. But my second thought was more realistic. The reason he bought this description of his job was that it is true. What he does is important, more important than it seems.
Not everybody is lucky enough to have a job they can feel good about this way. No matter how you spin it, the world is not a better place because somebody works on an assembly line. Some times a job is just a job. The only reason to do it is that you get paid for it.
That’s okay. If other people depend on you for support it is more than okay. The world needs more saints doing socially useful jobs, but it also needs more responsible mothers, fathers, and children.
In fact, without them, there isn’t much the saints can do.