Sunday, August 18, 2013

Parking Lot

It's been a wonderful week of pizza and ice cream and hotdogs and the beach.

FYI, sunburned lips are very painful.  Avoid them at all costs.

Now it's back to house cleaning and home maintenance and getting ready for school.  

And blogging, of course.

I stopped by the grocery store this morning, and as I was walking back to my car, I saw a woman sitting in the passenger's seat of a car, sobbing and saying, "Please help me."

I wasn't sure quite what to do, because she seemed to be just sitting there, not attempting to get out of the car and seek help, and everyone was basically walking by and ignoring her.

Like anyone faced with such a situation, I weighed what was best to do.  What might I be getting myself into?

I put my groceries in the back of my car and then decided I couldn't leave without making sure she was okay.  I approached the car (cautiously) and said, "Excuse me--are you all right?"

It turns out she had just dropped her cat off at the vet.  She said, "I'm just so sad."  I think when I heard her saying "please help me," she was praying.

Well.  You can imagine.  I doubt she could have found a more sympathetic listener if she had surveyed the entire parking lot beforehand.

I told her that my cat had died a year earlier, and that I loved cats, so I definitely understood her sadness.  She said her cat had to be at the vet for a couple of days, and maybe they could fix the problem.

So I told her, "When you're sad, you just need to cry it out.  That's just how it is.  But don't be too sad right now and don't cry too much, because you don't really know how things are going to turn out.  Things may be okay in a couple of days."

She said she was sad and worried because she kept thinking about how the cat was all alone and so frightened, being left at the vet like that.  In retrospect, it's a miracle I didn't start to cry too, at that point, but I just did my best to reassure her that the cat was in the best possible place for now, that vets love animals and want them to be safe and well, and that this was just what had to happen.  And that it might get better.

I actually got her to smile a little bit, so I told her she'd be in my thoughts today.  I told her I'd be sending out good wishes for her kitty and hoping it would all turn out okay.

This incident reminded me of something that happened a few weeks ago.  I haven't blogged about it, for fear of bringing another bout of long-lost lunacy down on my head.  But I decided this morning that I will, because it's a similar kind of thing.

I was out for a bike ride one morning when someone pulled up behind me and asked if I'd seen a golden retriever puppy.  I turned around and... it was one of the ex-girlfriends of a guy I used to know--one of the ones who caused me so much trouble a couple of years ago.  

She clearly didn't realize it was me she was pulling up to ask (she pulled up behind me, and I was wearing a bike helmet).

As I looked at her, I became nearly 100% certain it was her.  I recognized the voice.  It slowly dawned on me that it might very well be the guy's dog she was looking for.

I'm not going to lie: I felt nothing but sheer fury in that moment.  I was boiling inside.  

I'm pretty sure it showed on my face, because she started to look a bit frightened, actually.  

But I simply said, "No, I haven't," and rode off.

My first reaction was, "Yeah, karma's a real bitch, isn't it?"  Because that was what was running through my mind the entire time I was looking at her: how all of them used to keep warning me I'd better watch out for karma, that I shouldn't ever be angry or upset or speak my mind--I should just put up with their... well, crap, actually.

But then, as I kept riding along (averaging about 100 mph, uphill), I started to think about the poor dog, who was just out there, lost.  

Because as it turned out, the guy was out of town, so if it was his dog, he wasn't even looking for him at that point.  I started to realize that, if it was his, he probably didn't even know the dog was missing.

So, I mulled it over and then decided that, no matter how repulsive their behavior to me had been, no matter how much stress and anxiety they had caused me and despite all the problems and the mess they had created and then left for me to clean up, I was going to do the right thing.

I decided this was the way to prove to myself once and for all that I hadn't let them change me.  

Anyone can do the right thing when it's easy.  The test is, do you do the right thing when it isn't comfortable?  When you'd really rather not?  When you know for a fact that the people involved would never in a million years do the same for you?

The easiest thing in the world would have been to shrug and say, "Sucks for you.  Not my problem."  And I knew that no one on the planet would ever blame me for that.

But that's not who I am.

And anyway, I don't believe in karma.  To anyone who does, I suggest the following: walk through a pediatric intensive care unit some day.  When you come out, take a minute and tell me exactly what it is that those children did to "deserve" what's happening to them.

I subscribe to Emerson's claim: "What you are comes to you."  Be a good, kind, honest person and friend, and the good, kind, honest people of the world will gravitate towards you.  Tell lies and act like an immature jerk, and be prepared to have a life full of liars and immature jerks.

So, in the end, I sent a message to the guy and told him, "I think I saw your friend and she's looking for a dog--on the off chance that it's yours, I'm telling you, because I see you're out of town."

My best friend was worried that he'd try to get back in touch, but I told her no, I was quite certain he wouldn't.  It's done.

And I'm back.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."