I was running an errand for work last week and entered a small building I had never entered before. It was cramped and dark, and not particularly inviting from the outside.
Once I got inside, the atmosphere was even worse.
It was cramped and crowded. The dim fluorescent lighting, worn carpet, and dark panelling added to the depressing ambiance and gloomy atmosphere.
But I didn’t particularly notice the outdated decor.
I didn’t mind the dark walls.
I wasn’t bothered by the flickering lights on the ceiling.
What caught my eye wasn’t the the walls’ paneling, but the walls’ posters.
Lots of posters. Signs is perhaps a better term.
Some signs were expected:
“Please be seated.”
But others conveyed a different attitude. And, as a newcomer to this particular building, they struck a resounding chord.
“We charge for rudeness.”
“Wait your turn.”
And my particular favorite –
“Be nice or leave!”
(Unlike the photo above, theirs didn’t even end with a somewhat-placating “thank you”!)
The signs unsettled me. And I couldn’t figure why.
After all, they’re just pieces of paper taped or nailed to a paneled wall.
Just sentiments to bring a smile or groan.
Just decorations to distract the eye and entertain the mind.
The signs posted in that building cultivated the attitude of the building.
The building wasn’t gloomy and depressing because of how it looked.
It was gloomy and depressing because of the message the signs said.
And it made me wonder.
Maybe the way we view one another isn’t as much about outward looks as it is about the signs that decorate the “rooms” of our lives.
And – more personally – what are the signs that decorate my rooms?
That is, when people encounter me for the first time, what “sign” do they read?
Is it encouraging:
Is it motivating:
or cold and uninviting?
When people meet me – for the first time or the thousandth – what do they see?
In my face?
In my tone?
In my eyes?
What do they see in yours?
We all create our own.
I want mine to be beautiful.
What about you?