I recently took a trip (via METRA) to the city for a speaking gig for my business. I always find it intriguing to ride the train. There are so many diverse groups of people in one small space. It always reminds me of Richard Sherman ‘s Bus Stories. He has such a fabulous writing style in describing fellow passengers and what they may be thinking or experiencing on said bus rides.
Here we have such diverse nationalities coming together for the same purpose (we all need a ride). Several of them speaking different languages – and we’re all headed to the city for our own reasons. Some folks seem very friendly and wanna chat, which is okay by me. Sometimes I’m in a chatty mood (more so on the way to the city than on the way back) and some just choose to sit silent next to you (that’s also cool).
I sit and contemplate “I wonder what their story is. Have they dealt with a crapload of family issues before leaving for work? Are they heading to the city to visit a loved one or have a fun day? Do they work in the city and ride this god-forsaken train every day? (That would stink).
Everyone has a story. Just like in our workplaces, people are dealing with multiple facets of family dynamics and some either leave that at home, on the train, or bring it to work. Some find a colleague and use them as counselor (which I do not advocate) and some just need to get things off their chest.
I think understanding that we all have “things” we deal with on a regular basis and being somewhat sympathetic goes a long way. Of course there are those who will continue to push the envelope, come into your office and unload on you every day with their personal problems. Somehow, we have to put a stop to that. I call them “time robbers” who steal our time and never take our advice. I’ve learned over the years to just flat-out tell them, “look, if you’re not going to take my advice, don’t talk to me about it anymore” and most of the time it works.
I work virtually so my constant intruder is my husband. Sometimes I would love to put an “out of the office” sign on my door but think he would probably guess I’m still in there.
I think one of the things I love most about living in the Chicago area is its diverse population. It mixes it up a bit, and I like that. Being from Southeast Alabama, we mostly have three diverse groups: Rednecks (whites), Blacks, and a few Hispanics (who work in our tomato fields). Somehow, it’s just not that exciting unless a redneck gets out of control. That can be somewhat exciting.
In the end, its diversity that makes up this great nation of ours. The freedom of expression, whatever that may mean for each diverse group and I’m fascinated by that.