Monday, August 09, 2010

Bone Deep

We only had a few items so we were in the 'less than' aisle of the grocery store. There was only one person ahead of us. I paid no attention to her as I dumped out items on the conveyor belt. Only when the bag was empty did I notice that she was busy with the clerk trying to send money through Western Union. The clerk hadn't done it very often and was taking a very long time. The woman wasn't from Canada and the clerk was suspicious of her Identification Card.

Finally Joe, who was standing behind me, leaned over and whispered, pass them over to me in the next aisle. I then saw that that lane was free so I picked the groceries up one at a time and handed them over to him and he then placed them on that belt. The woman looked at me and almost cried with frustration. I knew she felt bad about taking so long.

Now, in truth, I had been bickering in my head about this. I always get in the line with someone who NEEDS something and takes FOREVER. Why does this ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?? In truth, I was saying nasty things about the wait. Then she looked at me with apology in her eyes. In a second I managed to think, 'It's Saturday, you aren't in a rush, you are comfortably seated in your wheelchair, what difference does this time make?'

So I said, 'Don't worry, everyone has a right to get their business done.' She smiled a genuine smile. She then stepped back so I could drive by. I waited for Joe and then we wandered through the food court for a bit before deciding to have lunch at home. As I was leaving she rushed up to me and spoke.

"Thank you for your kindness. You don't know what it meant to me to be treated so nicely right then. You must be a truly wonderful man.' Then she, impulsively hugged me. I'm not a hugger. But I let her hold on to me for a second. I could almost feel the sea of despair around her. I felt strong, like a rock, and when she needed me no more she let go. Brushed tears from her eyes and ran off.

All the way home I kept thinking about how she thought I was someone I wasn't. I had thought of her with annoyance even though I spoke to her with kindness. I wished I was who she thought I was. I want to learn to be authentically kind all the way through - beauty may be skin deep but kindness goes to the bone.

I hope she's well.


theknapper said...

But despite all your insistance that you weren't 100% you still gave her an experience of being cared about......and yes it prob says alot about where she has come from.....never underestimate an act of kindness.....even if it wasn't pure it still touched her deeply.... and you ARE a truly wonderful man and you being human and not being pure makes you wonderful in my eyes.(and I know you weren't wanting this)
does this make any sense?!

Clay said...

You are who she thought you were. You were kind when it counts, where the "rubber hits the road". It counted for her, when she had been feeling so frazzled.

Anonymous said...

Dave.....oh how you underestimate yourself!

What's important in this interaction is not that you had the negative thoughts, what's important is that you didn't act on them!
At a soul level you have it Dave.......happy monday!

Love Linda (LinMac)

Glee said...

Linda's right.

Kate said...

Actions speak louder than words - or thoughts.

Kate said...

meaning, you did he right thing, it doesnt matter what you thought.

Belinda said...

Oh, everyone so far beat me to it, but saved me words. I say, "Amen."

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

Dave, you have the full range of human response, and you are capable of choosing to do the ethical thing. I'd say that makes you a true and complete human being. Most people never get there. Mazel tov!

liz said...

You are kind all the way to the bone. Having negative thoughts is not unkind: EXPRESSING negative thoughts is unkind. You also had the positive thoughts and the generous nature to express only the thoughts that made her feel better.

And you gave her something priceless: an understanding, human moment.

Anonymous said...

It's not JUST a matter of you choosing nice actions over the unkind thoughts; I think it's more than that. In the moment you were saying kind words, you meant them, right? Your original thoughts were of impatience, but it only took a glimpse of this woman's eyes for you to humanize the situation, and change your way of thinking. In that moment, I get the impression that you weren't just saying the nice thing to say through gritted teeth, covering up your true thoughts. It sounds like you'd already moved past the impatient thoughts, and were genuinely, authentically, being the kind of person that this woman needed.


Lene Andersen said...

You can't always control your thoughts, but you can control what you do about them. The act is important, the thoughts less so.

Sunshine and Shadows said...

This post makes me want to try to be more patient and kind. I'm glad she got strength from you today.