It was cold last Friday and extremely windy so I wimped out. Truth be told I was also lazy, so I took a Lyft where I was going. Lyft, in case you don’t know, is a ride-sharing company like Uber.
The minute I got into the car before I’d even settled myself enough to close the door, the driver told me that mine was his favourite apartment building in Toronto. He then immediately went on to tell me it was because of our doorman.
Further explaining, he told me that 20-odd years ago he was a newcomer to Canada, an immigrant who knew virtually no English. He was a delivery man for a fast food chain (Swiss Chalet) at the time and he said that our doorman, whose name he didn’t remember, always made him feel welcome and respected.
Although we have several different doormen working at various times of the day, evening, overnight and weekends I knew right away to whom he was referring. I have lived in this building for nine years and every single time I have gotten into a taxi and given the driver my address I’ve heard a similar story.
But I must say that I was amazed and so moved that this man remembered him after so many years. That’s really something.
Unfortunately, I had sad news for him. George, the doorman who’d worked here for 22 years, had passed away unexpectedly last summer. He was, indeed, a very special man.
For George, everyone who lived in, visited or delivered something to this building was important and deserving of respect and attention. When he asked how you were — which was every time he saw you — it was because he truly cared and wanted to know.
No matter how bad the weather or how he was feeling, he’d always smile broadly and leap to his feet to open doors, carry parcels, summon the elevators, offer words of encouragement, share a story or a laugh, whatever he could do to help you and improve your day. It made no difference to George whether you lived here or were a stranger he’d never see again.
Everyone mattered to George.
And, as I was reminded last Friday, even more significantly, George mattered to everyone — even someone who hadn’t seen him in 20 plus years but remembered how kind he’d been to him. The driver talked to me about how he felt about George for the entire ride. His voice was breaking as he spoke and I sat there, in the back seat, feeling his emotion and tearing up myself.
We live in a world where it seems like the only thing that matters is money. That wealth is the measure of a man and how much of it we leave behind is what counts. Pretty pathetic if you ask me. Because when it comes to legacies I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to top the legacy George left. There’s a lot more to having “riches” than money.