Pushing the Edge with Glenn Mangurian: “I See Invisible People”

Glenn Mangurian

"Pushing the Edge" by Glenn Mangurian will be the newest regular column in the Hingham Anchor. You can learn more about the author below.  

June 16, 2020 by Glenn Mangurian

Yes, I see invisible people. They are everywhere. They walk around like everyone else. They are the transit workers, dishwashers, grocery restockers, home delivery people, nursing assistants, gas station attendants and many others that we have started calling "essential workers". As essential as they are to our basic needs, they struggle to earn a living wage and make ends meet.

Most of us don't pay much attention to them. We may be preoccupied with texting or checking our emails. We might be ruminating about our problems. Whatever it is, these workers go about their jobs in the background, seldom acknowledged. I used to be one who did not notice these essential workers. That all changed in 2001.

The summer of 2001 I spent two months at Boston Medical Center (BMC) recovering from my spinal cord injury learning to live with paralysis. Each day was pretty much the same - some occupational and physical therapy followed by a lot of time in bed thinking about my future. Early on in my hospital stay I met Claudette. Claudette was the woman who brought me my lunch. She would knock on the door, announce herself as "Nutrition", say "good afternoon, Mr. Glenn" with a Creole accent and place the tray next to my bed. I didn't pay much attention to her because I was preoccupied with my worries.

One day when I was feeling a bit down, Claudette noticed my sad eyes and put her hand on my hand. It was what I needed. I thanked her and asked her name. That started a relationship that lasted for the remainder of my stay at BMC. Often after her shift, Claudette would return to my room with an extra dessert and we would share stories. I learned about her childhood in Barbados, her family and her faith. She learned about my family, career and fears. We became friends. I would look forward to her visits.

Glenn and Claudette, June 2001

When the time came for me to return home, we hugged and got teary eyed. I thanked her for her caring and humanity. Her gesture of kindness prompted me to become friends with my nurse aids who would help me get dressed and the housekeeping staff who would keep my room clean. I learned they all took pride in their work as simple as it may seem to many. I lost touch with Claudette but never forgot her.

I learned many things while in the hospital but maybe the most important lesson was that everyone has a wonderful story. If we take time to learn another person's story, we change relationships and create connections. We are in fact more similar than we are different. I've carried that insight forward and incorporated it into my interactions with people I see in public ... "thank you" to the person who holds the door open, "thank you for your service" to the grocery restockers, "have a good day" to the gas station attendant, or a simple smile to someone as he or she passes me on the sidewalk. Be kind to others and let your humanity show.

You change the world one person at a time. Let that next person be you.


Glenn Mangurian has been a resident of Hingham for 35 years. He is a retired business leader with more than four decades of experience driving innovation and results with his clients. Glenn remains active with his writing, speaking, family, and community. 

In May 2001, Glenn suffered an injury to his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of his lower body. Drawing on his personal experience, he authored an article titled “Realizing What You’re Made Of,” which was published in March 2007 in the Harvard Business Review. In May 2017 he published his first book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility and Action – Questions and Insights from Everyday Life.

Glenn Mangurian can be reached at: glenn@glennmangurian.com

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