I didn’t get his name, but I could hardly hear his voice as he strained to get every word out. He was a smaller and older African American man who was carting garbage through Concourse B at Midway in Chicago. As he pulled up next to me, I looked at him and asked, “How’s it going?”

For a moment, he looked surprised that I was talking to him. He said a few words that I could barely understand.  But, I did catch him saying, “Just glad to be alive and have a job to come to.” In response, all I could say as I made a sharp right for the men’s room was, “Lord bless you.” He simply looked up and smiled. I went my way and he went his.

You know, I relate to this guy. It was only in 1993 that I too, was carting garbage around the Clark County Fairgrounds in Vancouver, Washington. I remember that look when someone acknowledges you when you are pushing around garbage. Quite frankly, people like this often times go unnoticed or seemed to others as less significant. They get taken for granted for being the ones who come to clean up our messes. And, so they come and go to the attention of no one who seems to notice.

Occasionally they will ask you at your table if you are done so they can dispose of your stuff and we kindly answer their question as they go about their job.

But even still, they come and go.

I remember all too well… coming and going.

How did I get to this place where I am typing this recollection in Chicago after meeting with some pretty high influence individuals in Washington DC?

Perhaps in stories like these, I am beginning to understand that the very one I just spoke of who was carting garbage through the airport was too… a high influence individual, and we don’t even know it.

If this man was of the least of these, then that which you do for the least of these, you do unto Me says one who changed the ages so many years ago.

We all have significance and we all have value. No matter what you do, where you are, how much you make, whether you have a college degree or not, whether you own a pair of shoes or not… you are valued and if you want to see what I mean… just look in the mirror.

So, as you go about your day and observe people doing their various jobs and things… don’t pass them by. See value, see significance, and see potential.

For, in this, you never know who you might be entertaining and… you never know what that word or look of acknowledgement might do for that person.

Quite frankly, you never know what it might do for you.