When I was working in the library of Alamosa High School we had a big hotel-style bell to get our attention when we weren’t at the front desk. The students (especially the boys) rang that bell constantly, even if I was sitting right there at the desk, just to annoy me.
After working there about two weeks, my nerves were shot listening to that bell being rung a hundred times a day. So I had to figure out a way to get these guys to stop ringing that bell. Ah, ha, an idea came to me; I’ll tell them “I love you” every time anyone rang that bell. What teenager wants a plump, little old lady saying “I love you” to them out loud? Yeah, that will work…won’t take but a couple of days and that will be that! WRONG!!!!!
Next morning I started in saying “I love you” every time someone rang that bell. I must have said it 50-60 times a day. But there wasn’t much of a decline in people ringing that bell. I’d say it no matter where in the library I happened to be, if someone rang the bell you’d hear a distant “I love you” from behind the stacks of books….it just became a habit after a few weeks. Even teachers began to ring the bell and I’d say “I love you” and then everyone began to playfully reply “I love you too”. That became the natural response for everyone.
One day a new student came into the library and another student egged him to ring the bell. “Go ahead and ring the bell and see what happens” Sure enough he rang the bell and from back of the room I said “I love you”. The new student was shocked and said “what was that?” The Librarian said “oh, that’s just Ms. Chapman; she says that to everyone who rings the bell”.
The bell continued to be rung and the “I love you” continued to be said. It got to be a quirky thing the school talked about and made fun of by some. But for some reason I continued to say it.
One Friday, just before school was let out, this new student came into the library while I was sitting at the front desk. He looked me straight in the eyes and rang that bell, I said “I love you”. He continued to look at me and rang that bell two more times, receiving the same “I love you” response. He turned to leave and I stopped him and asked why he rang that bell three times. His response stunned me, “Because it’s Friday and I won’t hear those words again until I see you on Monday. I wanted some extras to carry me through the weekend.”
He turned and walked out of the library with me unable to speak and my mouth wide open.
Pause here……to swallow hard and wipe my eyes.
I continued to say “I love you” for the next two years I worked at the high school library. I continued saying it when I later worked at the public library, with a modification. Working with the public I changed it to “You are loved” as it seemed more appropriate. That, too, startled many people. Many frowned at me, but most smiled and said “I love you, too” right back to me. There wasn’t a bell at the public library but many folk told me they liked to come in so they could hear “you are loved” because it was the only time anyone ever said it to them.
Saying “you are loved” or “I love you” has become a personal motto. Many of you have heard me say it to you often. I say it to sales people, grocery store clerks, bosses, even when placing orders by phone. Every one needs and wants to be noticed, acknowledged and deserves love.
So, as Paul Harvey said, “that’s the rest of the story”. That annoying desk bell started it all. It amazes me how The Universe takes whatever we have to offer and uses it for good.
And, as always, remember, you are loved!