When I was 11 our class sat a General Knowledge test. They asked us the usual questions about people, politics, news, sport, and current affairs. It was the last question that took us all by surprise: “What is the name of the lady who cleans your classroom?”
We all knew the cleaning lady: we saw her every day, but none of us knew her name. I handed in my test leaving the last question blank. As we exited the classroom one of my friends asked our teacher if the last question would count toward our mark.
“Absolutely,” said our teacher. “You will meet many people in your life. All are equally significant. Every one of them deserves your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’.”
I have never forgotten that lesson. I learned her name was Francis, and it’s shaped the way I relate to everyone ever since.