When we lived in Potchefstroom, I attended an all-girls high school. In the beginning I hated it, but it eventually started to grow on me. Dad was transferred to Pretoria and I was faced with the option of changing schools (again!), or becoming a boarder. I opted for the latter.

At the school every pupil had to wear a name badge. It was part of our uniform. I always thought it was a stupid idea, but as I’ve got older I’ve realized that it isn’t.

I make a point of greeting a person by name if they have a name badge on, for example a store cashier, bank teller or a petrol attendant, because it makes them feel important and also because often they remember me too. They may not know my name but they remember my face.

That brings me to the subject of my post today. Daniel…

Daniel is the petrol attendant at the garage I utilize most to fuel my Silver Bullet and Dad’s car. One morning I stopped in on my way to the farm and asked him to put R120 worth of fuel into my car. He popped the nozzle in and fervently began washing the windscreen and when I looked again the pump was ticking over at R180! I shrieked “Hey! Look what’s happened!” in horror (purely because I only had R200 in my purse) and he grabbed the nozzle out and humbly apologized, telling me that he would pay the difference in out of his own pocket.

It was then that I noticed his name badge, which turned him from just another petrol attendant to Daniel, a real person working as a petrol attendant, trying to earn an honest day’s wage.  I felt quite sorry for him because I know that R60 is most likely his entire day’s wage, so I told him, “It’s okay Daniel, don’t worry. I actually do have enough money in my purse to pay for the petrol.” I still tipped him for cleaning the windscreen. He was so grateful.

Ever since that day, whenever I stop at the garage and Daniel is working he just about assaults the other attendants if they even so much as come near whatever car I’m putting petrol in. It is actually amusingly sweet. If I’m on my way to work he will ask how things are at the farm and wish me a good day, and if I stop in after work he will ask about the past day, as will I about his.

On Monday I came to work with Dad’s car and stopped in to put petrol in and he asked if the car was my other car (and I’m thinking “Oh, I wish!”) and I told him that it is Dad’s.  It’s idle chit-chat, but I know he appreciates the interaction.

It just goes to show, a smile and a bit of personal recognition can go a long way…and it brings that saying to my mind: “Be kinder than necessary to everyone you meet because everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”