"Feliz ... ano ... nuevo!" I mentioned to one of our building's cleaning workers the other day when she came to empty our trash cans. I was proud to have identified how to say "Happy new year" in her native language.
"Gracia," she smiled, and added something else which I didn't understand. But I think that she was pleased that I had made the effort to carry on the conversation in the language with which she was more comfortable.
Then yesterday, another of the cleaning workers pulled me aside on my way to my office in the morning. He is one with whom I talk almost everyday. "Amigo," he said, "Can you do me a favor?" It wasn't a large favor at all, but I was pleased that he trusted me to help him with it.
There are at least a half-dozen cleaning workers that I know on a first-name basis, and I think that they are happy to see me and I am happy to see them (even if it is a challenge sometimes to think of what to say).
Establishing a friendly rapport with such colleagues who might be overlooked and others treated lukewarmly, I think, is one of my greatest accomplishments.
On days when none of my technical work seems to reap any progress, I hope that I am always able to say, "Today, I shared Christ's love with the janitors." If I cannot be charitable with them, what good are my calculations and brilliant ideas?