December 15, 2020, started out like any other day for Anthony Gaskin. He woke up, put on his brown UPS uniform, hopped into his delivery truck, and set off to make the day’s rounds dropping off packages on his route in Chester County, Virginia. But something odd happened as he pulled into the neighborhood where he often delivered over 180 packages a day.
Families and cars were gathered along the sides of the road as though the people were waiting for a parade to pass by. Stranger still, many of them held up signs, and the signs said things like, “We love Anthony!” and “Thank you for your kindness!” As he drove past the crowds, they cheered, clapped, and honked their horns at him. What the heck was going on?
It turned out that the neighborhood on Anthony’s delivery route had decided to come out in force to demonstrate how much they appreciated him. Throughout the pandemic, he had been a consistently uplifting presence in their lives. He always waved from his truck and brought a needed ray of light into their days with his smile and conversation. And he maintained this upbeat attitude even as the volume of packages increased dramatically due to a spike in home deliveries and the holiday season, saddling him with an even heavier workload. So, one neighbor took it upon herself to rally others to show him how grateful they were.
“I was in shock,” Anthony said. “My heart was overjoyed.”
What we find emotional about this story isn’t just the well-deserved outpouring of appreciation Anthony received, though that is inspiring. There is also a bigger, less obvious lesson in what this community did.
As the sign stated, the people of the neighborhood loved Anthony. Yet we rarely publicly express feelings of love except with our close family and friends, and even with these loved ones it can sometimes be hard to find the right words. But the people on Anthony’s route understood that an expression of love in a context in which love is rarely expressed—between a UPS driver and his customers—would have a profound effect. And it did.
Anthony was brought to tears by learning what he meant to the community, and the story of what had happened ended up on the national news, touching peoples’ hearts across the country. Once you let love break out of its customary box, it can bring new warmth and depth to our lives. In particular, love can yield powerful outcomes in the world of work. But it shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for exceptional gestures like the one that occurred in Chester County. It should be part of the fabric of everyday life at work and at home.
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