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Showing Up

Saw a saying on a chalkboard at Gramma Nell’s in Birch Tree the other day when we stopped for lunch.  “The whole world is understaffed SO be kind to those who do show up!”  Rather a timely reflection.  As I was somewhat “peckish” I at first gave more attention to the menu and the quickly delivered meals.

I had a side-salad and grilled chicken; my wife a cheeseburger with similar side-salad.  All was good and politely delivered by Shy Ann, our waitress.  A girl in her early twenties “who showed up.”  So; we were kind.  Along with waitressing, she substitute teaches, mows lawns and is going back to college this fall.  Shy Ann shows up a lot!

It has been said “Decisions are made by those who show up!”  Makes sense.  Reminds us how important “showing up” really is.  At work, at play; at the polls.  We are in a world with which I am having trouble adjusting. 

I don’t remember “showing up” being a choice when young; which admittedly was well over half-a-century back.  In fact, I grew up with the adage “If you are fifteen minutes early, you are on time.  If you are ‘on time’, you are late.  If you are late; well, you are just not needed!”

That “not needed” ranged from being summarily fired from a job to just not included in whatever activity had been scheduled.  Meetings were started on time.  Actual work began “on the hour.”  You clocked in and got your equipment ready; your workstation prepared BEFORE the day started.

Such habits have been slipping for some time.  The recent programs and monetary incentives to NOT show up just speeded up a process of degradation already in the making.  Lethargy and laziness; apathy and unaccountability are no strangers to civilized society.  We have recognized sloth as a sin for a long time.

Just, or at least it seems to me; it is in recent times we have removed any stigma from such behavior.  And there are a LOT of places we have not been showing up.  Obviously, at work.  “Help Needed” signs are in every state through which we travel.

But, also; school board meetings.  Parent-teacher conferences.  City-council meetings.  Community gatherings.  And in our homes.  Yes; homes.

Are we gathering around the table for meals?  Television and cell-phones off?  Meals began with a prayer of thanks and including heartfelt discussions between family members?  Genuine interest in each’s activities? 

We bemoan the quality of political candidates, but are we showing up at primaries (and BEFORE) to help encourage and select better?  Doing what we can to support true public servants?

As weather warms and another round of “Stream Cleanings” approach I think of those who certainly will show up.  And those who will not.

We are in a world that does appear understaffed.  Even some “there” are not really there!  We have all been waited on or served by them in restaurants and public offices.  Retail stores.

Often, it is easy to ask “What we can do?”  Well, we can at least be kind to those who are showing up.  A good tip, of course.  A smile; a pleasant word.  In some of my recent speaking engagements, I have met several wonderful young people who are “showing up.”

Lydia and Ezekiel; Mary and Trustin—all of whom helped me demonstrate some of our older traditions.  Young in heart Leon.  I hope to each I conveyed kindness.

If we all showed more kindness to those showing up, then would more show up?  Maybe. Thanks for joining us!   

Eric “Rick” Mansfield is a retired educator who along with his wife Judy,resides on a farm in rural Reynolds County. Rick is a seasoned storyteller and writer,always looking for new audiences. He Can be followed on Rick Mansfield Facebook and contacted at

A chalkboard at Gramma Nell’s in Birch Tree the other day when we stopped for lunch, with the saying “The whole world is understaffed SO be kind to those who do show up!” 

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