How About We Not Be Jerks This Week
November 8, 2017
On Halloween, I was standing on the sidewalk texting while Fishlegs Ingerman (far left) was tripping and spilling his candy everywhere for the 14th time.
I honestly can’t remember who I was texting or why, but it felt important enough to finish before I bent down to help him.
In the meantime, a gaggle of teenagers (who were probably too old to be trick-or-treating to begin with, but who cares) ran over to help gather his loot off the cement.
As I stood over my son and the teens – candy splayed everywhere in between – I realized the irony: a grown woman texting while a group of phone-less youths were helping.
We all laughed about it, as I put my phone away.
Fast forward to Friday morning.
With speaking engagements coming up and a throat that felt like it was trying to self-incinerate, I took myself to the urgent care. A few of my assistants – the 3 year old and the 2 year old – were in tow.
As I waited for the staff to call my name, the 2 year old crawled up in my lap, cried for minute, arched his back….and then threw up all over me and the floor.
It was unexpected, to say the least.
More unexpected than his projectile vomiting, however, was the fact that not a single adult in the waiting room looked up from their phone screens.
The only aid that was rendered as I sat waiting for the retching to finish was a medical waste bag the receptionist lady tossed at me before returning back to her computer.
When I knew the first wave of vomiting was over, I set my son in the chair and walked up to reception.
Front Desk Lady didn’t look at me, speak to me, or offer any assistance as I grabbed handfuls of Clorox wipes from the counter and started cleaning up our mess.
“Surely there’s some sort of procedure in place for accidents like this”, I thought, positive my haphazard wipe-down wouldn’t pass inspection.
I peeled the soiled clothes off my buddy, walked back to the desk and said, “Excuse me…do you have a plastic bag?”
“A bag?? For what??” Front Desk Lady said, irritated to be breathing the same air as such an unreasonable human as myself.
“For the clothes my son just dirtied,” I replied calmly.
Sighing, she went around the corner into the supply closet. She reemerged immediately with the exact kind of plastic bag one uses in a vomit-clothes situation. (This was an urgent care, after all. They are prepared for this very scenario.)
I put my son’s clothes in a bag, threw the wipes away, and went in search of water for him.
Words cannot express Front Desk Lady’s face when I asked if they had a bottle of water, or the sass in her finger as she pointed me to the “water machine over there in the corner”.
Throughout this entire exchange – my toddler sitting across the room alone in only a diaper and monster-feet houseshoes…
…my other tiny assistant still frozen in disgust next to the crime scene – the only person brave enough to make eye contact with us was another patient waiting for the doctor.
“Are you guys ok? Can I help with anything?” he asked after about 10 minutes.
“No,” I said. But thank you for marginally redeeming my hope for humanity.
The only time Front Desk Lady looked up from her computer and spoke to us – aside from direct answers to my direct questions – was when she told the 3 year old to “stop playing with the blinds”.
I ended up testing positive for strep (as did the toddler the next day), got my script (the only real reason I couldn’t storm out and set fire to the building), and got outa Dodge.
I talked to an auditorium full of college girls last night, partly about technology.
About the need to regularly unplug for the sake of our sanity.
About the idea that the more engrossed in our phones we are, the more our empathy for others diminishes.
It’s funny, because they really aren’t the ones with the problem.
Neither are teenagers.
Everybody is the one with the problem.
This is a hard week for America.
A lot of anger and sadness over the evil of violence. The realities of sin and brokenness.
We can’t control others.
But we can control ourselves.
So how about you and I make a pact to not be jerks to other people this week?
How about you and I find times to unplug and look people in the eyes this week?
How about we scrap that political Facebook post that divides more than it unites right now – the opining that produces arguments, not productive conversations?
How about we stop to help pick up a little boy’s Halloween candy when it spills, and offer a glass of water to a sick mom with an unexpectedly sicker kid?
How about we choose empathy and kindness always, but especially on a week like this?
(How about we also look at this How to Train Your Dragon cast comparison photo, because smiling is also important on a week like this and THIS IS REALLY DANG CUTE.)