Dalene

Many years ago I wrote a piece about Daniel, an attendant who worked at the petrol station close to the house we lived in at the time. Today I want to share a similar story, also about a petrol attendant – her name is Dalene. She works at the station I pass daily whether on my way to work, or on my way home. I refuel there most often because I earn loyalty points with the bank if I do.

Her job is not a difficult one, but in a sense it is hard. As the seasons change, the mornings are chillier, darkness sets in earlier, and for a great deal of her shift, she is on her feet. That’s how we got talking one day – she was limping.

Upon asking what was wrong, she replied that she had an ingrown toenail and that she would be having it seen to when time allowed, but until then, she was grateful that she could still walk. Dis seer ja, maar die Here is goed vir my (It is sore, but God is good to me) she said.

Every time I have been fortunate enough to have Dalene attend to my car, she has performed her job with pride. She never asks if she can clean my windscreen, she simply does. I’ve watched her some days standing on a cold drink bottle crate to reach the windscreens of 4×4’s and the like. She doesn’t let her height, nor age get in the way of doing her job well, and with great pride. Dalene is petite and if I had to guess, I would think in her late forties, maybe early fifties.

She is also the one petrol attendant that always tells me if the station is having a promotion or competition. Just this morning she gave me a pamphlet for the current one – spend R250 on petrol and be entered into the draw for a R5000 shopping voucher. Mevrou mòèt inskryf (M’aam you must enter) she told me. I told her I would later in the week.

I asked her about her weekend, and she told me that it was a quiet one – she cooked for her Uncle, who is 79, and then spent most of her time watching TV. Dis my lewe, maar ek is dankbaar. Die Here is goed vir my (That’s my life, but I am grateful. God is good to me).

It got me thinking to how much I (and many of you reading this post) have, and yet, are we genuinely grateful? How often do we take things for granted? Things, that for many, are luxuries, but to us, are necessities? How often do we say God (or whatever Higher Power you believe in) is good and how often do we say we’re grateful for what we have – or do we continue to wish for more?

As I was about to leave, Dalene looked me straight in the eye and told me to have a good day – even in the days of masks, I could tell by her eyes that she was speaking that blessing over me with a smile.

So often we want to make an impact on someone’s life and think a grand gesture is the way to do it. This morning, Dalene’s never-wavering gratitude, the way in which she performs her job with pride, and humility reminded me that sometimes all that is necessary to make a positive impact on another is to be genuine to who you are.

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