Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Falling Down With Gratitude

I was heading out on a mission. I had to pick something up at the post office. Joe needed to stay back at the apartment. I hopped on my chair determined to deal with doors and elevators on my own. I managed fine down to the lobby and through the first door. The second door is a bit tricky but as I approached a woman was openning the door, I got her to hold it for a few seconds longer so that I could slip through. As I breezed past her she said, "It must be difficult always having to rely on the kindness of strangers."

Before I could respond she was gone and I was heading down the driveway. "Kindness of strangers?" What am I now living in a Tennesse Williams play? Even though the remark had a ridiculousness all of it's own, it stuck in my craw. Harumph.

Then as I was driving in the sunlight along streets freshly washed by an intense morning rain, I began thinking about it and realized that I didn't mind at all relying on the kindness of others. In fact, I thought, I've relied on kindnesses for my entire life. It didn't start, this addiction of mine for human kindness, the moment my bum hit the chair. I can list hundreds of kindesses I've experienced at the hands of others, some strangers, some family, some friends. I believe that we all, every one of us, relies and even anticipates moments of kindness. It isn't about disability, it's about people living together, managing together. It's about what it is to be part of a community.

Later, much later, I began to feel sorry for the woman who made the comment. The fact that she thought that holding the door open for a second or two for a guy in a wheelchair was an act of KINDNESS, is just too sad!! A simple little courtesy, referred to, elevated to an act of kindness. Good God! Have we sunk this low. I understand even that horrid little man, the 'HEIL!!' guy with the creepy mustache occasionally held the door for girlfried Eva. This doesn't negate all the other shit he put the world through. 'At least he held the door open - No, he didn't. Well, I never.'

It's a frigging door lady.

I'da held it open for you if I'd got there first. And I wouldn't have expected a jewel in my heavenly crown. I wouldn't have expected the Nobel Peace Prize. All I'd have expected was a quiet thank you.

Well, thank you, and may you live in a world of true kindness, and yes, of course, courtesy.


rickismom said...

Good Post, well said.

Belinda said...

Relying on the kindness of others is a healthy thing as long as we give back kindness to the rest of the world too.

The comment was, whether intended, or understood to be so, demeaning. Being kind, maybe she didn't realize...:)

ivanova said...

People just don't stop saying ridiculous things that reveal their character!

In the play, Blanche says she relies on the kindness of strangers as she's being carted away to the "lunatic asylum." So wow, what a nice thing to say to someone!

tekeal said...

gulp. help me out here. maybe for me the meaning of the words "kindness" and "courtesy" live closer together....

"I believe that we all, every one of us, relies and even anticipates moments of kindness"

i agree with you here. why, then, must this women's comment automatically imply that she now believes herself to have jewels on the crown of her head- uplifting herself to the queen of offering kindness??

how many times are these simple acts of common courtesy/kindness NOT followed through with? or done so with a hurried, impatience in the air?

of course WE ALL rely on kindness... all of us in different ways.

yesterday i thought to myself almost exactly the same thought of how difficult it must be to rely on the kindness of strangers as i watched a cashier very kindly, matter-of-a-factly, respectfully, take a woman's money and purse, counting out her change, putting it back in the purse, coming around the cash desk and putting the groceries in her basket ( this woman was in a scooter), and i thought that it should OF COURSE always be this way, but probably isn't.

was i demeaning in such thinking? maybe the issue is more about respect...? i'm confused, and at the risk of looking like a totally ignorant fool, i'm going to now press publish!


liz said...

I'm guessing that she's one of the many women in the world who still believe it's supposed to be men who hold the door for them. My momma taught us (2 daughters) that the first person to the door holds it for the next person.

Kristin said...

So many people have forgotten all the social niceties (common courtesy among them) that take the rough edges off society. it is such a shame.

theknapper said...

I'm with you Dave!

Dave Hingsburger said...

tekeal, never fear disagreeing with something I wrote, I like discussion. What you are describing, to me is an act of kindness. It took time and patience and a willingness to meet someone's need. This, in contrast, to two seconds holding open a door. I just don't like the word 'kindness' to be cheapened by equating it to civility or couresty. To me a kindness is an act of the heart, civility is an act of manners. I like both, but I value one more.

FridaWrites said...

I see your point, Dave--but it's possible she meant it another way. For those of us who can't open doors on wheelchairs/scooters (I can't), I have to ask someone else to, or wait. People often ignore me or walk past or let the door slam in my face without holding it. More recently, someone started to hold it and then let the heavy door slam on my body rather than continuing to hold it until I was all the way through. So for me it is tough having to rely on others rather than being able to do it myself (one reason I want to get an assistance dog), or to have to wait a really long time in the cold (sometimes 30 min. for one building). The kids' school secretary and one woman at a particular business act really put out by having to get up and let me in.

FridaWrites said...

Also wanted to say that I am not questioning your point of view--I was not there to see body language or expression or tone, and assume that your initial reaction is very likely to have matched what was said to you.