Every morning on my way to my glass-enclosed office facing the beautiful hills of Mountain View I walk through the snack kitchen area of my office floor. Be it 7.30 or 8 or 8.30am, there is always one person who is in the office before me every morning: Jason! He is a super friendly 20-something kitchen personnel who makes sure our snack kitchen is clean and stocked before most of our floor starts filling up. He is also the first person who greets me every morning with a big bright smile, chit chats about the weekend and often tells me how excited he is to play golf at Shoreline on the weekends where he works a second job and self-taught himself how to play golf over the years.
When I saw him last Wednesday he looked a bit sad so I asked if everything was alright.
After a bit of hesitation he confided in me that he has been very sick since Sunday with a stomach flu almost requiring a visit to the Emergency Room and he had to call in sick on Monday. He came in on Tuesday but had to be sent back home within 40 minutes because of his condition. As a vendor he only gets three paid sick days and he was worried he will get salary cuts for extra days off if his situation got any worse. I asked if he was taking any medicine and he replied he wasn’t able to keep any food down, including any medicine he took. The only thing that made him feel better was to take a hot shower which he couldn’t do for too long because he lived with his mother and she was worried about an increase in the water bill they may not be able to afford. This broke my heart!
A few weeks ago I had forwarded an email to him from the Google Golf Club that is organizing a highly discounted game for $132 at a course at Pebble Beach instead of the usual $800+ fee for that particular course. Ever since he has been telling me how excited he is about the opportunity to finally play golf at Pebble Beach but that day he told me he can’t participate anymore because he can’t afford the $132 fee right now. I saw a dream shattering right there!
I went back to my desk and wondered what I could do to help Jason and make it look like an expression of gratitude rather than an act of charity. All of my colleagues on my floor have been blessed with more material wealth than Jason, yet he showers us with his happy demeanor and friendly small talk every morning brightening up our days. So I sent out a note to my colleagues asking if anyone would like to contribute to make his “dream come true” by pooling $132 for his Pebble Beach green fee. No one was obligated to contribute as I was willing to cover the entire fee but I wanted to give everyone the chance to thank him and have this be a gift from all of us.
Within a few hours not only had my team collected over $350 but they had also flooded my inbox and dropped by my office with messages that warmed my heart like never before:
“You are so kind and sometimes it just takes one person to motivate others to action, which is what you did. Hard to believe that one simple inquiry will have such a life lasting impact.”
“That was the sweetest and kindest gesture I’ve seen in a while. It is amazing and thank you for sharing that.”
” Aprajita, he is always the first one to say good morning to my dog and I and to offer me a sparkling water in the mornings as soon as I walk into our kitchen. I will be more than happy to contribute.”
“I keep getting amazed about the thoughtfulness of Googlers, another amazing example Aprajita! Count me in to help out.”
“I love Jason. Please let me know how I can send you the $. I’m also happy to contribute $ to help him get a new golf outfit or something!”
“What a thoughtful and generous idea, Aprajita! I love it, and count me in.”
“We should make sure he has enough for a nice lunch afterwards. I’m in for whatever it takes.”
I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone on the team and the goodness of the people I work with. Really, sometimes all it takes is noticing the small stuff, having open ears and taking the first step towards action.
I bought a card for Jason that same night, wrote a letter for him and requested everyone to sign it the next day:
On Friday morning I saw Jason bright and early in the office and asked him how he was doing. He was feeling better and this time I gave him the biggest smile I had to offer telling him our team had a surprise for him. I handed over the envelop with the card, letter and money to him:
The video ends abruptly because I received a big bear hug from Jason who was shaking and had tears in his eyes. So did I!
They say “For it is in giving that we receive.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
Take the first step, the rest will fall in place.