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  • Writer's pictureAndie Kantor

Giving and Receiving

I used to work onboard cruise ships as an assistant cruise director. I traveled all over the world and had loads of crazy adventures, met wonderful people, ate incredible food, and generally had a lot of fun. It was grueling work--14 hour work days sometimes, eight month contracts for very low wages, and we always had to be super high energy. I basically got paid to do things like call bingo, run karaoke, and make sure that all our guests had an excellent time.

That was the mantra of the company I worked for at the time--excellent. If any passenger asked how things were, we were to answer “excellent”--whether we had just broken up with a partner, lost a parent, or people had flown airplanes into buildings of our home country.

Excellent was the highest praise that passengers could give on our review cards, so they wanted the word planted firmly in their minds. We would stand in the atrium as they came and left, and wish them an excellent voyage as they embarked, or an excellent day each time they disembarked the ship.

At my school, our current COVID19 protocol requires every student to have a QR code that is scanned to let the school know they have tested negative in the last 8 days. If a student does not have a QR code for whatever reason, they are to stand in line and their name is looked up manually. This means that more adults are needed to scan students, keep them in their various lines, look them up, etc.

The middle school where I work is currently super short-staffed. We need 12 out-of-classroom faculty and staff, including but not limited to an assistant principal, four counselors, and three teacher aides. All of these positions would be required to help get students safely onto our campus, but since we don’t have them, I’m filling in.

Because we are so short-staffed, I have been helping out in the morning. In Normal Times I keep the library open for students to read or have a quiet place to go, but currently I have the position between the two lines to keep the groups apart, and have taken it upon myself to cheerfully scream at students every single day. “Good morning,” I shout daily, through my mask. “Happy Wednesday! Please keep your masks over your mouths and noses so we can all stay safe! It’s so great to see you!!! Today we have periods 5,6,7, &8! Have an amazing day! Please stay on your side of the line! We are so happy you’re here today! Welcome back to school!” I feel like an assistant cruise director and doing this always puts me in such a great mood.

This morning I wasn’t feeling it. I decided to just smile at them through the mask. Tyra Banks calls it smizing. Guess what happened?

Students said, “Good morning, Ms.! Have an incredible day!” Some shyly waved their little hands at me. Students tapped elbows with me, politely asked which schedule we had today, and smized at me first. I was informed excitedly that one boy had comic books he had to show me at lunch, one student wished me a happy Thursday, and the boy I have in my library class today said, “Good morning, I’ll see you period 1.” I felt so warm, so loved, so seen--and soon I was able to start greeting students again.

This is a perfect example of giving and receiving, that what we send out comes right back to us. Of course it doesn’t happen in such an immediate, obvious way all the time. But it does happen. Giving and receiving are reciprocal, two sides of the same coin. The Latin root words grat- and grac- mean things like expressing joy, good wishes, pleasing, and beloved. When we allow ourselves to feel grateful and gracious we feel these emotions ourselves.

When we give for the simple joy of giving, it raises our frequency. For example, a few weeks ago, when we were birthday shopping for a present for one of my son’s besties, he pet every single stuffed dragon in the store before deciding on the softest one, and then chattered all about how he couldn’t wait to give it to his friend. He was so excited to give it that he told other kids at the party about the stuffed dragon. The simple act of giving made him feel good.

On the other hand, when we allow others to give to us, it also raises our frequency--and at the same time allows others to feel super excited about their giving. A few weeks ago I had a rough morning and knocked something over. One of the campus aides gave me an entire container of disinfectant wipes to help with the mess--as well as various candy to help me get through the emotional part of it. When I was done, I went to give the rest of the wipes back to her and as I held them out, she paused, stared at me for a moment, then said, “Are you really giving me back my gift?” I apologized and thanked her in utter gratitude, as her kindness had absolutely made my morning so much better.

So if giving and receiving raise your frequency, shouldn’t we all do more of it? We can give a smile, a phone call, a good morning. We can tip a bit more. We can donate when we declutter instead of throwing away. We can be philanthropists and give money to organizations we believe in. Giving is easier than we think, and the receiving will always come.

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