Horror of horrors!
But lately, I've noticed that I've been having more emotional responses to everyday life. While I usually exercise a kind of cold stoicism, little things have started to tug at my heart until I can feel beads of tears well up behind my eyes.
Most events happen at work. Early in my training, I had to deal with an elderly mother and her impatient daughter. She was so mean and dismissive of her mother. Was there a reason? The mother may have suffered from Alzheimer's because she dropped some money and thought she had already paid me, but it's not an uncommon mistake. And her daughter was so unsympathetic! She was terse and rude and downright pushy.
The elderly mother finally admitted, "I knew I shouldn't have come." And that hit me hard. The banal, faceless evil of day-to-day suffering is sometimes profoundly distilled in the smallest of things.
There's an older man who works at the theater with a terrible speech impediment and who may also be mildly mentally handicapped. His skin is scarred and blistered by red sores. One day, he asked for ice water, but his speech was so garbled that I had to ask him to repeat 7 or 8 times. I was embarrassed because I just wanted to help him with ease and the full humanity he deserved, but his frustration seemed to suggest I had failed. Pondering the daily struggles that my fellow employee must endure again brought me to sadness.
There are other stories, and everyday a new one; another employee with a bum leg, a customer with bone growth disease, a severe mental handicap, a tired, poor mother who must bear the cries of disappointment from her children when she realizes she doesn't have enough money for both a popcorn and a soda...
And then I wonder how I fit in; where am I along the crushing wheel? I must not seem quite so out of place. Daily now, I'm asked, "Who did you get in a fight with?" "What happened to your eye?" "Uh oh, looks infected." or my favorite:
"You walk into something?"
"No. I'm blind in my eye, since birth. Don't worry, I get it all the time."
"I'll bet you do."
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, I have next to nothing to complain about. Besides, I got what I choose to believe is a very awesome compliment today.
"Hey. You look exactly like that kid from Juno."