I am not always the loving, calm, tolerant person that I want to be.
I am a work in progress, nowhere close to perfect. Today’s story illustrates again how not perfect I am.
The other morning, I was waiting for the bus to get to work. Two people who seemed to be homeless came up to me. Only one of them spoke. He said, “Listen, lady.”
First off, great start, obviously. Whenever I want someone to help me, I always start by saying, “Listen, [insert gender here].”
That’s the point where I usually shake my head as I continue walking, and say, “Sorry” (as in “Sorry, I can’t give you any money”). But, he immediately said, “We don’t want any money.”
Okay, so maybe they need directions or something. We all know I’m pretty awful with directions, but I’m within three blocks of my home, so it is possible that I know how to get somewhere.
He says, “We don’t want any money, we’re just wondering if you can buy us some food.”
I say, “Sorry,” and continue waiting for the bus. (I can’t walk away, ‘cause you know, it’s a bus stop.) He immediately jumps a level in anger and says, “Oh, ‘cause you’re afraid of black people?”
At this point he’s starting to get in my face a little. It would be easy to get mad at – A) the way he’s treating me B) the things he’s saying.
I remain calm and say, “No, sir. It’s because if I gave every person money who asked me for it – ”
He interrupts and screams at me, “We’re not asking for money!”
I calmly try to explain that I wouldn’t have time to walk to a food establishment with them, and that I have no food on me. Before I can really get out any kind of explanation, he is screaming at me about how much I “hate black people.”
At this point, I scream at him. “Get away from me, already! Stop yelling at me! I do not owe you anything! I don’t owe you anything!”
He starts screaming some names at me. I’m yelling at him to “shut up” (which is a rude phrase, I know).
That’s when the bus comes, and I jump on. I try to explain to the bus driver that I’m not a psychopath who goes around screaming at strangers. He was a jovial man, and everything was cool. Cool-ish.
I had just started my day off as a rude, inconsiderate person. Was there any reason to actually engage the man in a screaming match? No, of course not.
When strangers on the street insult you, they are not thought out insults based on who you are, and the actions you show in your life. They are just things someone says in anger – anger probably directed more at other things than at you specifically.
(And even if someone insulted me with things that are based in truth, that’s still no reason to scream at them. What could screaming ever accomplish?)
The man and his friend seemed to be going through a hard time. They don’t need people yelling at them. He probably did need some help, but none that I could really give him. I don’t know the homeless shelter/soup kitchen scene in Los Angeles. I didn’t know where to tell him he could get help. Although, I could have looked it up for him.
That’s what I should’ve done – tried to find solutions to help people.
There you have it. A reminder to you (and my own ego) that as much as I like to think I can be this wonderful person who is always calm, compassionate, and caring – I have a long (very long) way to go (and I will work hard to continue moving closer to the me I want to be).