The ripple effect

May 14, 2019

A man rushed past, impatient to board his train. In his haste, he knocked into another man, causing that man’s drink bottle to fall out of his bag. It rolled down the gap between the platform and the train — never to be seen again.


We made eye contact. He looked frustrated. Annoyed. I gave him a sympathetic smile and hoped my eyes said, “That was rude and it sucks. But at least it was just a drink bottle and nothing more valuable.”


I joined the queue for the escalator, as did he, a little ahead of me. Because I chose to walk up the right, I soon ended up next to him. We made eye contact again. I simply said, “Don’t let it ruin your day.”


“Thanks,” he replied. “I won’t.”


It was a quick, off-the-cuff exchange, but the next morning, as I boarded the train I was tapped on the shoulder.


“Excuse me.” It was the man whose drink bottle had been knocked off the platform.


“Thank you for your kind example yesterday,” he said.


Stunned, I managed to stammer, “Did you have a good day?”


“I did, thanks,” he replied. “And I used it as an example for my team. So, thank you.”


Still lost for words, and conscious we were holding up the commuters on each set of stairs, I smiled and quickly said, “Oh, good,” before hurrying along.

Wow! I took my seat and just marvelled at God’s hand in that event.

So often our impact is unknown. I was overwhelmed with how my words that day had started a ripple effect. Who knows — maybe, without me, that man could have been frustrated about being knocked in such a rude way and it could have flowed on from there, the springboard for negative emotions, which in turn could have heightened
frustration at every other minor inconvenience that day.


You know those days I mean, when you ‘wake up on the wrong side of bed’ and when every little nuisance piles on top of the other until you explode because the milk was spilled.

So, not only did that man end up having a good day instead of a negative one, he encouraged his team. And who knows what impact that had? Who was in his team? Three people? One hundred? And how did they respond? Did one of those team members make a better decision that day because of what he said? And did that ripple flow on from there?


Our actions cause reactions. Make them positive. Our actions cause reactions. Be wise in your choices. Try not to sweat the small stuff. Our actions cause reactions. It’s important to remember that.

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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