Today I learned compassion.
I had a meeting last week with a woman who owns a restaurant. I pitched her my services and we had a lengthy chat. That was the first meeting. She was pleasant enough and extremely sharp but something seemed reserved, protected about her. I chalked it up to her poker face...normal sales stuff.
That very same woman called me back for a second meeting this morning in which I was to pitch her partner and get his buy-in, too. Not an abnormal process in my business; sometimes it takes two meetings to close a client. Such was the case.
Her partner was running around getting the place ready to open and her and I began to make small talk. I asked her how she and her partner got into business together to which her reply was, "Oh that's a screwed up story. It's really screwed up." Hard to know what to say to a response like that. So I told her I wouldn't ask her any questions in case it was private. I was thinking something along the lines of maybe he was an ex-husband or her best friend's ex-husband who she fell in love with. Who knows?!
She commented, willingly "My partner is the best friend of my ex-husband."
Seemed simple enough. And quite normal nowadays.
Then she just opened up. She told me her partner had stood by her side when she decided to divorce her husband. And that she should have left him ten years prior to her actual divorce had she been smarter.
Part of me thought - this is another bitter woman. Yikes...opened the wrong can of worms here.
But no. She told me her ex used to hit her and beat her and abuse drugs despite the fact they had two beautiful girls...babies really...back then. And then...her eyes welled up and I could see big tears on the brink of spilling over. I thought...wow, this woman has a lot of pain. How brave of her to share and how awful for her family. Here she was; running a successful business and raising her now teenagers.
The whole thing caught me off guard. Not only did she trust me but she must have felt some level of kinship to share what is normally a hard topic. God knows the therapy she put in. Perhaps it hit me more now that I have two babies at home. I don't know but it really got me emotional.
She wiped away the tears as her partner and loyal friend walked over...ready to commence the meeting. He was a simple man. All business. I couldn't help but appreciate and admire the guy that turns his back on his best friend and supports the woman who stood before me - no questions asked. It should be noted that her partner has his own family, too.
I think the thing that gets me is...there's a lot of messed up things going on in this world right now. Terrorist attacks, stabbings at schools, bomb threats, abusive relationships...it makes becoming an adult a very unfavorable choice. But, there is good in every tragedy. And it may take years to discover.
That's what happened to me today. No big epiphany. Just hope for the human race and a reminder that every person has a story. Every person needs support. Every person needs a chance to be your friend. And...there are many people out there that have it a lot tougher than you do. #smallacts