Several months ago I had an incident at Target where a woman was openly hostile and rude to me when I dared cross her path with my cart and two kids. Since my nature is to immediately feel awful for anything that upsets someone else – and it was so obviously I upset her as she snottily exclaimed, “Jeezus. Just cut me off why don’t you and don’t even apologize” – I followed her to grovel for forgiveness. She was even ruder to me at that moment as she was on her cell phone bitching about me, “This girl and her kids just cut me off without even looking at me…”) and she just waved her hand in my face and shoo’ed me away like, Whatever, little girl. Go away now. I was shaken and upset. I reanalyzed the situation hundreds of times that day and came to one simple conclusion: I did nothing wrong. She was just a bitch. But it still wounded me. Upset me. Causes me to now brace for an attack anytime my cart cuts off someone at the end of an aisle.
I told the story several times that weekend, but I have – since then – slowly started to erase the event from my mind. This is a gift I’ve always possessed, the ability to actually forget the hurt people have caused me. I’ve actually run into people from my past before and been so excited to see them that I’ve hugged them and greeted them fondly. Only to later remember that maybe we ended on bad terms and that they were expecting the cold shoulder from me. I think my subconscious doesn’t want these incidents to have power over me. My conscious self wants to never forget the woman’s face so that if I ever see her again I can punch her in the gut. But my subconscious self? Knows better. Knows that gives this horrible woman power over my positive spirit and I realize that the memory is faded.
I had to go drop off a prescription at Target on Monday. Right as we got there it started pouring. And I mean pouring. I opened the umbrella and it flipped inside out. I usually don’t even bother with umbrellas anyway because it takes away a hand that can hold/carry a child. My theory has always been to move faster in the rain and leave the umbrella in the car. But NikkiZ wanted me to try. Since the umbrella was useless and I didn’t want to sit in the car for hours and wait…I put NikkiZ on my back and carried AndyZ on my front and we started running. There was a kind woman leaving Target who offered us her umbrella was we passed her. She just offered it…Here! You take this! I don’t need it! I laughed, thanked her as forcefully as I could for her wonderful kindness, and kept running.
There was no point in the umbrella. Two steps in the rain and we were already soaked. But we didn’t care. It was funny and we were laughing. Maybe a little cold inside the air-conditioning of the store, but still laughing. But that wonderful woman…she was about to hand over her umbrella…just give it to me…because it was so obvious we were in need. And there are many more like her I encounter every day. People who just smile when I cut them off at Target and commiserate about losing momentum on those buggies. People who let me in on a busy road. People who laugh at my children’s antics instead of grumble that they even exist. There are tons of wonderful and loving people in the world and I want to remember every one of their faces. I tried to stamp the kind smile of that woman who offered me her umbrella in my mind forever. I don’t want to forget her. I want my subconscious to hold on to her face and show it to me when the ugly people of the world pop up. To remind me that I have the power to let the rude and the hateful people roll away into infinity and I can hold onto the kind and the loving forever.
I will figure out a way to repay that woman some day. Maybe not by giving away an umbrella, since I obviously never carry one. But I’ll figure out a way. Even if it’s just adding more kindness to my general interactions with people. Anything to pass on the joy that the woman with the umbrella gave me on Monday. That reminder that there are truly kind and good people in the world. And I truly hope that simple gesture comes back to that woman 100 times over…that her kindness returns over and over again. I’d really like her to know that the crazy lady carrying two kids in the pouring rain will always remember her kind gesture, even if she didn’t take the umbrella.