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“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” ― Brené Brown

Last week I went to get a foot massage.  This place in my city had been closed for a long time because of the pandemic.  Now that they have reopened, my sister and I try to go there as much as we can.  We feel bad because we think they are struggling.

I asked the owner, a Chinese man name Tony, if he has applied for government assistance, EIDL, PPP loans, etc.  He doesn’t speak much English.  I don’t speak Chinese.  So, it was very tough understanding each other.

His wife got a translator app on her phone.  It helped some.  I tried to explain to them that there are different types of assistance available.  We kept going around in circles.  They remained confused.  I grew frustrated.

I then remembered I read about a volunteer program that RXR Realty set up in New Rochelle.  It is aimed at helping small businesses with navigating the loan applications, etc.  I found the site online and filled out an application with them. I had to put my email down because Tony doesn’t have an email address, but I put his cell phone as contact.  I requested a Chinese speaking volunteer.

This going back and forth with this translator app and then completing this application took almost an hour.  The calmness of the massage that I had just gotten was long gone by then.

A few days later I received an email from RXR asking me to confirm that I no longer needed assistance. They said Tony was contacted and said he didn’t need help.

I was surprised and requested that the person that had spoken to him call me.   Joan, the very nice volunteer called me.  She mentioned that Tony just said he didn’t need anything.  She spoke Chinese, so they understood each other clearly.

I said to her that he was probably just confused. He was probably getting a lot calls, as I am, with offers for PPP funding. She offered to call him again and this time explain it all. She said she would call in the next couple of days because she was busy the rest of the day.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” ― Steve Maraboli

The next day I stopped at the store to let him know that she was going to call.  He said, with the help of the translator app, that she had already called twice the day before.  He said that he told her really didn’t need help.

I looked at him surprised.  He explained that his accountant said he should not apply for anything.  I kept trying to understand, and also to make sure he understood that there was help available. I was trying to explain that it is a loan, but that he wouldn’t have to pay back if the money was used to pay for business expenses.

At one point Tony reached into a bag behind the counter and shoved a bunch of Toblerone chocolates in my hands.  I got the message!  It was his way of saying thank you and shutting me up.  It worked.  Chocolate always works with me. 😊

Perhaps his accountant isn’t giving him sound advice. Perhaps his business practices are not on the up and up.  Perhaps he doesn’t really need any help.  Whatever it is, it is none of my business

My take away from this episode is:

  • I don’t know people’s circumstances. I don’t know if they NEED or WANT help. I can’t force people to accept help.
  • I am embarrassed for getting frustrated over the language barrier issues.  I once barely spoke any English. I am forever grateful for the people that showed me patience and understanding.  It is good to have reminders of where I came from and realize that I am not that different from Tony and his wife. I am them and they are me.
  • I need to continue to work on being compassionate, patient, and non-judgmental with others. I don’t know everything.  I actually know nothing.
  • Be and let it be!

“7 Effective Ways to Make Others Feel Important

1. Use their name.
2. Express sincere gratitude.
3. Do more listening than talking.
4. Talk more about them than about you.
5. Be authentically interested.
6. Be sincere in your praise.
7. Show you care.”
― Roy T. Bennett