More reasons why I’m probably a terrible person:
Yesterday I was at Target and I saw an older lady pushing a shopping cart full of stuff out of the door. I was just walking in, but she looked like she was struggling with the weight of the cart. For a good ten seconds I contemplated walking to her and asking if she’d like help pushing the cart and loading all of her things into her car.
But within that ten seconds, I asked myself – what if she doesn’t want my help? What if she feels offended that I think she isn’t capable of pushing a cart on her own? What if there’s awkward silence while I’m walking to her car? It’s kind of hot outside. Maybe someone else will help her. I do have somewhere to be in an hour. And that new wallet I need, what if it sells out by the time I get inside. Maybe she’s not even struggling with the cart and she’s just a slow walker and I’ll freak her out if I ask her for help.
So I kept walking. Maybe I could have brightened someone’s day, maybe they would have thought I was a serial killer. Never would have known unless I tried, and the moment passed.
A few minutes ago I was sitting in the library on one of the school computers in the main walkway working on an article. It’s Friday, so there’s relatively little traffic walking through.
From behind me I hear a guy say “excuse me.” Can I just maybe offer the excuse that last time I was sitting in the library and someone said excuse me from behind it was some random dude on a dare that came up to me and told me I was pretty and walked away?
That’s not really an excuse for how terrible I am. Because it was not some random dude on a dare. It was a student around my age who said,
“Excuse me – I don’t go to this school, but I need to print out a ticket for a concert I’m going to here. Do you know how I can get on the computers? The guy told me I needed an ID.”
Another series of thoughts went through my head. Oh hi, I don’t know if you need an ID, woah I just misspelled that word on my article after you said hi to me, I think there are visitors’ computers somewhere, if you’re not here where are you from, are you a serial killer? how much do copies cost? ten cents? are you going to give me ten cents if I print your tickets for you?
That’s what got me. The fact that that thought actually fired through the receptors in my brain. Ten cents. TEN CENTS. HOW SAD AM I.
So being unsure of how to behave as a normal human being I thought it would be most helpful to direct him to what I believed were the visitor’s computers. “Oh, I think you might need an ID – but if you want to hop on those computers over there and make sure – ”
My plan was to see if the visitor computers worked, and if they didn’t I’d log him on to my ID from a different computer. But before I could execute this exercise in brilliance, the girl sitting at the computer across from me chimed in. And she is a much better person than me. So much so that she basically rubbed my face in the main course of how much better of a person she is than me and then moved on to desert.
She goes, “Oh, sweetie, you do need an ID. But come over here, where do you need to go?”
And just like that I became a blight on the universe that they both ignored. The girl who was so heartless she couldn’t spare one minute and ten cents for the random dude.
It was even worse having to sit there and listen to their conversation.
“Oh, thank you!” says the ticket dude. “I need to go to my e-mail.”
“There you go,” she says, and lets him take over the keyboard.
“Yeah, I found it,” he says as he logs into what I’m assuming is his e-mail.
“So where are you going to school?”
“Just community college for now,” he says. “I haven’t made it into the big schools yet.”
“Well maybe someday, right? Where do you want to go?”
“Maybe Boston or Denver. Haven’t decided yet. And it’s totally legal over there,” he says as a joke.
“Oh yeah, all my friends are really into that stuff. But I never tried it.” Of course you didn’t try it because you are the sun’s rays in walking form.
“Yeah, I don’t have time for that right now. What’s your major?”
“Peace studies,” she replies. Of course your major is peace studies. I guess mine is like, doing nothing studies because that’s what I’m sitting here doing.
“How much is it?” he asks her.
“Oh it’s literally like ten cents,” she says. “Don’t even worry about it.”
It’s like she could read my previous thoughts and now she’s just trying to make me look like the worst person ever.
“Really? Thanks so much.”
“Yeah of course. Do you know where the printer is?”
“Ummm…No I don’t.”
“Ok, let me go with you to show you where it is.”
I have a few moments of silence to contemplate how much better she is than me, and then she returns after seeing the student off. I decide that I should give her an appreciative smile for taking upon the responsibility that the universe haphazardly bestowed upon me, but when I look up at her, smiling, she just stares at me. Like, I am a terrible person. Ok, I get it, I am.
Later, her friend sits down at the computer and I kid you not after a lot of loud conversation (and a rather distracting one for those of us who are trying to stud – er, or like, write about the people talking) her friend says, “Wow, you just have a lot of positive energy radiating from you. Do you have a secret kind of water you drink?”
And I kid you not she replies, “Good one – no, I don’t, but everything is a choice. Everything that you feel, how you react to things.”
“What about things that happen to you?”
“No, not things that happen to you. But your happiness is up to you.”
Ok, peace studies and sunshine minor girl. Maybe I resent you for showing me up in all aspects of life, but you might have something there. It sounds a little new-age weirdish if you take it too much further than what she said, but a the core what struck me was how simply true her statement was. Your happiness is up to you.
So I’m going to work on not being a terrible person. I’ve got a long way to go. But in the process I’ve learned again what I already knew – your happiness is up to you, so it’s all in the way you look at it.