As I left work today and crossed the street, I met a jogger who stopped at the same corner waiting for a light change. As I always do when walking down the street, I made eye contact and we briefly acknowledged each other. He was about to go a different direction than I, so I kept going and as I walked away the man said “See you in church Sunday!” It was one of those “uh-oh” moments when you realize that the person recognizes you, yet you have no earthly idea who he is.
I turned around to look at him again and he continued, “I know what church you go to – Walnut Street, right?” I said “yeah” and smiled and we went our separate ways. I will definitely be looking for him at church on Sunday.
As I continued to my car, it occurred to me how easy it would be to be seen doing something embarrassing simply because we are not always aware of who is watching us. Of course, the best plan is to not be doing those things you wouldn’t want to be caught doing, anyway, and then you don’t have to worry about who is watching. Still, today’s encounter was a reminder that other eyes may see you treat someone with disrespect, may hear your condescending or hateful tone of voice, or may see or hear things you certainly don’t want to have associated with who you are as a person. That other person could be anyone – coworker, neighbor, friend, clerk, child, parent, spouse – anyone.
I’ve always loved and been challenged by the phrase “Who you are when you are alone is who you really are.” Maybe I need to add a revised version to accompany that saying – something like “Who you are when you don’t know anyone is watching is who you really are.”
Either way, leap year lesson #144 is You never know who’s watching.