I’ve been talking a long hard look at myself recently and I’m trying to be more aware of how my actions might affect others. I catch myself thinking bad thoughts all the time. Not like murderous or criminal stuff, just little things.
Mostly its cruel jibes about a persons physical appearance or even the way they’re dressed. These are things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about when I was younger. Recently, I’m more aware than ever that these strangers are actually people, they have feelings too.
I’ll see a young woman dressed in a mis-match of colours or wearing a silly hat and I’ll be thinking “What is she like?” Then the little voice will break in, “that’s someone’s Sister, imagine if someone was being cruel to my Sister?”
Or, there’ll be some old lady dawdling along in my path and I cant get past. I might open my mouth to proclaim something like “I’ve all the time in the world, dont mind me!” Again, I’ll stop myself with a “that’s someone’s Nan, that is, dont be so cruel.”
Maybe its an overweight, greasy haired frump with terrible skin. Previously, I’d sneer or make a joke, now I wouldn’t. You get the idea.
Writing just those few lines above, gave me quite an uncomfortable feeling, that is probably the best indicator of all that I know I was doing wrong.
When I start to think back over my early years, I hate to admit that I’ve not always been the nicest person. You know the sort of stuff that even many years later, just thinking about it makes you blush with a private embarrassment?
All of this ties in quite nicely with something that happened fairly recently. I was shopping at a local DIY superstore and after a bit of brain-scratching, realised that one of the Greeter/Trolley collector types was a boy that had been in my form-room in School. Lets call him Michael, for no other reason than that was his name. This was a bit unusual in itself since I now live about 30 miles from the town I grew up in and he is the first Mexborough person I’ve ever bumped into over here in Sheffield.
Now Michael wasn’t the brightest kid, more than a bit overweight and rather short (even when compared to me!) He was also a ginger, albeit very dark ginger, had a home haircut courtesy of the pudding basin and to top it all off, he was adopted. Oh, and those eyebrows which always seemed to be in a state of stubbly re-growth, we speculated a lot about that one, punishment from adopted Mother was our conclusion.
So, Michael did get teased a lot and I’m ashamed to say that me and my friend Chris did as much of this as any others. We were the ones tripping him, hiding his things, cheating at cards to make sure he got “slaps” for losing.
It’s true that Children are our future, its also true that they can be cruel little bastards too.
Fast forwards back to the present and I’m now feeling totally shitty. I’m doing OK, after a few early years struggling to find my way, I’ve had a decade of happiness with my Paul, I have a reasonably paid job, my own home that will be paid for this year, I holiday 5 times a year and life is good. I really do have a lot to be thankful for.
Michael, On the other hand, is greeting people as they arrive at the DIY store, collecting trolleys from the car park in the wind and rain, he is Obese, possibly morbidly so and looks like he doesn’t have a lot to smile about. That may all seem to be a lot to have noticed in one visit and it is, in fact I’ve now seen him on 3 different trips to that store. Each time I visit I promise myself that I’ll say hello to him and see how he is. Each time I chicken out.
I guess I’m worried that if I did approach him and say hello, I may just hear some things I dont really want to know. I suppose that I really ought to leave well alone forget about it. I mean, its not like I’m going to re-kindle a friendship we never really had in the first place. The most I’m looking for is a hello, how are you, nice to see you again and by implication an “its not your fault.”
Is it terribly egotistical to imagine that my actions may have had some effect on his later life? Did we destroy his self esteem or did his adoptive parents do that alone? (you should have heard the stories he told us!)
Perhaps, despite outward appearances and my interpretation of these, he is very happy, enjoys his job, has a loving partner and maybe a kiddie or 2. Maybe.
I think I’ll think about it some more………