Would you think I was a nobody if I bagged groceries?

On Thursday nights, I hang out with my Little Brother, Ryan. (See my Community page for more information about my experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters.)

Earlier in the day at school, Ryan “dislocated his knee cap.” (I’ve learned that the life of a 10-year-old boy is very dramatic.) He inquired if we could go out to eat, since it would be a good way for him to relax. I’m quite blunt with Ryan and called him out. “There’s no need to cite an injury if you want to try a new restaurant.” As an open-minded, world-traveling educator, I don’t take Ryan to fast food or chain restaurants. You’ll never find us in a booth at Applebee’s. I expose him to ethnic cuisine like Pho #1 Noodle & Grill (Vietnamese) and Little Tokyo (Japanese). I applaud Ryan. He’s not hesitant to try new foods and he is curious to explore other cultures through their plates.

For last night’s meal, I suggested Greek Boy’s Gyro (Greek) or El Sarape (Mexican). Ryan, however, had a very strong (and I would argue pre-determined) desire to feast on an Irish meal. Yes, Irish. He must have seen a commercial about Paddy O’s because he mentioned that the ingredients are fresh and its a good deal. I didn’t put up a fight, as I’ll never pass on an opportunity to enjoy fish and chips.

During our dinnertime conversation, Ryan randomly asked me, “Would you think I was a nobody if I bagged groceries?” Wanting to learn more about his thought process, I responded, “Why do you ask?” Ryan told me that when he goes grocery shopping with his mother, he loves to bag the groceries. He added that it requires a specific skill set: thinking quickly, knowing how to make the bags even in weight, fitting products in a bag like a puzzle, and standing for a long period of time. I offered Ryan a two important life lessons: one, do something that you love, whether it’s running a business or bagging groceries; and two, respect and appreciate others for the work that they do. To help Ryan understand my lesson, I cited St. Norbert College as an example. We have a city of people: housekeepers, groundkeepers, receptionists, professors, administrators, and so on. If one person doesn’t do their job, it weakens the community. Each member of community (hopefully) enjoys what he or she does. As a study abroad advisor, I value the contributions of other members of the College community. In the end, I articulated that I will think highly of Ryan as long as he follows the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated.

Ryan then asked me if I believe in God, but we’ll save reflections on that topic for another post. In lieu of that discussion, enjoy a picture of of Ryan getting a brain freeze from too much frozen yogurt at SmartCow:

Ryan

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