Over the last year, the Dowd YMCA has been going through a major expansion. Let me take you to a day when construction occurred; the day the Y had a fire drill.

I had just finished working out and went to the locker room to shower. It was 7:30 a.m., and I had an 8:15 a.m. meeting at my office with a board member.

As I got to the locker room, the fire alarm went off. I ignored it. There was no fire. I assumed it was construction dust in a smoke detector. Then a Y staff member came down and said we needed to clear the building. I ignored him. After all, I was on a tight schedule. 

Another Y staffer came down and said we had to leave the locker room. I smiled and continued to get ready for the shower. I figured the safest place during a fire was the shower. 

Finally, a Y staffer came to the locker room and said, “Just wrap a towel around you. This is NOT a drill. You need to exit the Y now.” He wasn’t joking, but there was no way I could wrap a towel around me. It just didn’t fit. I threw my dress clothes on figuring I’d be outside for a half hour. Just as I exited the building, I was told the fire drill was over. I could return to the locker room. 

By this time, it was 7:47 a.m. I had to shower and dress in 13 minutes. I took the world’s fastest shower, got dressed and started to leave the locker room.

I wasn’t happy. The fire drill messed up my plans. I tend to hold onto things and not in a good way.  As I got to the top of the steps, I was a little bit cranky. In the registration area was Todd – the CEO of the Y. He gave me a big warm greeting. His response immediately changed my demeanor. I wasn’t happy that I had to get changed into my dress clothes while I was sweaty. I wasn’t happy I had 13 minutes to shower and get ready. I wasn’t happy I was probably going to be late for a meeting with my board member. Yet, how Todd greeted me gave me a different perspective.

Yes, I was going to be late for the meeting with the board member. However, I stopped, turned toward Todd and in a loud voice said to him, “I just want you to know that Jason did an incredible job with the fire drill. Did you see the great job Jason did with the fire drill? You should be proud to have him on your team.” Jason was standing a few feet away. I smiled at everyone and left the Y to get to my meeting.

John Maxwell said it so well, “Your attitude and my attitude is a choice.” He goes on to say, “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what happens in you.” I let the fire drill happen “in me.” I was going to let everyone know they messed up my schedule. Yet, it was a warm greeting from Todd that woke me up to what was important. The Y staff was looking out for my welfare. Had there been a fire, standing in the shower with the water running was not going to save my life. Being “ugly” to the Y staff would have made me feel better, but how would they have felt.

We have choices. We can either “react” or “respond” to what life throws at us. It will always throw “stuff” at us.

The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Go to www.charlotterescuemission.org and go to contact us – just ask for Pam. 

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