A security guard can teach you empathy – Guest column by Vineet Saraiwala
Vineet Saraiwala leads inclusion for a private retailer. In our guest column, he writes a moving account of how security guards have helped him to be independent despite a visual disability. He writes about how security guards play a critical role for disabled people but are never acknowledged for their services.
My cab stopped at the parking lot and a security guard assisted me to the entrance. Another guard greeted me with warmly with a cheerful ‘Good Morning!’ I reached the designated floor of my office and another security guard opened the glass door. Gestures that make you feel like a celebrity. It’s also moving to experience such random act of kindness every day.
Security guards enable disabled people in many ways
This happens with me all the time at different places. I travel to malls, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, airports, railway stations, conferences, and meetings independently only because of the kindness and generosity of security guards. They have shared meals, often at the cost of criticism from their bosses for leaving their designated places, held my hand like a guardian and helped me in the most unexpected ways.
Security guards are treated unfairly by society. We seldom acknowledge their presence. I was observing a security guard from a distance who was greeting each and every person entering a retail store. Some shoppers were glued to smartphones, while some were in the rush of life. Most people barely noticed their presence, while some even ignored them like they were untouchables. I went to one particular security guard and asked how many people returned his greetings and how he continued to do his work without feeling sad. In his place, I would feel devastated. Here is someone wishing you warmly and gets no response in return.
Security guards are teachers of diversity & inclusion
Look at their struggles to make ends meet. Take Mumbai, where security guards mostly line in distant suburbs like Ambarnath in crowded rooms. They travel standing for four hours a day, have no holidays and go unnoticed by people. They have everything to crib about but make this sacrifice for a better future for their families. I can proclaim with not a single doubt that to learn empathy, inclusion, love, kindness, gratitude, generosity and all those meaningful words, observe a security guard in action. They are the most wonderful people I have come across. I would even say that I owe my freedom to them.
If we want to understand diversity and inclusion in a real sense, we need to learn them from security guards. They interact with people of all religions, castes and economic strata. Now tell me who in this world has this richness of experience on a daily basis? We speak of diversity and inclusion but they experience it every moment. The least we can do is to say hello and acknowledge their presence. It does not cost any money. I asked one guard how he felt when people don’t acknowledge him. He told me he greeted them out of a sense of happiness. So, when you greet a security guard, I am sure you will feel happy to establish a deeper connection with humanity.
If you still don’t have the time to greet a fellow human being, treat them with respect and dignity. They are all over the place. Be it our apartment complexes, shops, hotels, parking lots, etc. We need to open our hearts and acknowledge their efforts in making this world a better place.
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