Friday, January 16, 2009

On Purpose

There is a fellow who lives on our street. He is in his mid-fifties. Since the day I met him, he knew my name and he's always very warm.

He's had some troubles and there has been some speculation as to how he deals with it.

But I don't care about that. What I do notice, is that whenever he sees me on the street, he makes the effort to say, "Hello, -j-j-." It's never with an expectation that I will enter into a conversation, just a quick hello and on his way. Every time I see him, I get a little nervous, persnickety as I am about talking to people I don't know, but our exchanges have always been brief and friendly.

The other day, while snoozing in my own world on the bus, I caught a glimpse of him sitting down a few rows ahead. He saw me as well.

The way my head was turned, I'm sure it looked as though I could see him the whole time. Truth was, I wasn't paying attention at all. But I'm sure it appeared to him that I was gawking at him, unsmiling, unfriendly.

As soon as my brain woke up and pieced together might have happened, I felt ashamed. The whole ride home, and after I got off the bus, I hoped to catch his glance, to smile in his direction, but the opportunity never arose. Had he known me better he could have shrugged it off or I could have explained. I didn't want to hurt his feelings.

This has happened plenty of times in my life, when I have become the accidental asshole, sometimes ignoring someone right next to me. Perhaps, I wasn't paying enough attention. It's not intentional, and as soon as I realize what has transpired, I try to rectify the situation.

Yesterday, someone got the bright idea to intentionally cause pain. It may not have been meant directly for me, but that doesn't matter.

What matters is this: They sat down with the aim and purpose of writing something hurtful. They used my name and tried to make comment on a situation about which they know nothing.
And to make matters worse, this person chose to keep themselves anonymous, relieving themselves of any responsibility.

Look, people hurt people. That's what we do. Christ,we can't help ourselves. I want something. You want something. Fuck you, I want mine more.

I have hurt many people in my life. Most without intention, but the deed was done nonetheless. In other cases, I regret to admit, I have done so on purpose, either in response to a perceived wrong, or my own insecurities.

But I'm still befuddled. Why set yourself to the task of typing a sentence that can have no other purpose but to cause injury? Every component of this points to the intention: to hurt.

The thing is, I'm not really that mad about it. I mean, I am a little, but more so, I am confused. What on earth could have happened in your day to make that sort of thing an appropriate response to ANYTHING.(You may try to shake the devil's hand and say "It was just a joke." I have about as dark a sense of humor as anyone and even I didn't think it was funny.)

I don't mean this to be a screed on "How to get along with the other neanderthals in your tribe" (Though tickets for my seminar are nearly sold out...get 'em while they last!) but c'mon, seriously?


rebar said...

I think the very simple answer is that when people are hurt or hurting (about some completely unrelated topic) they somehow feel better jabbing at other folks that have nothing to do with the cause of their pain.

It's that whole crazy cycle of abuse. I'm hurting, so you should be hurting too.

Bah. Mostly people are just too cowardly to admit they are hurt and it escalates or morphs into something else.

Simplistic (and stupid), but true.

Now. To throw you a bone since you're feeling poorly about about the bus guy, I'll tell you this.

I keep meaning to sit down and privately email you, but I'm LAZY and also SLEEPY and also FORGET TO DO THINGS I MEAN TO DO.

So, I'll do it here, in the public eye for all to comment upon.

The xmas card you sent finally showed up. And it showed up in true Jen fashion.

It arrived sans envelope, just the card, propped up on the wall over our mailboxes.

I'm thinking it landed in someone else's mailbox (for the last couple months, my neighbors are gettin' all my mail) and they tore open the envelope before they saw the name.

Anyway, all I see is a card stuck into the side of our row of mailboxes. No note, no name, just the front of the card.

I don't know how many of my other neighbors succumbed to the temptation of "those asshole kids", but it only took me about 3 seconds to yank it from it's spot and open it.

It is my favorite xmas card this year (possibly of all time) for both its homespun craftsmanship and its odd method of delivery.

So thanks for my card, J!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to frame it and hang it every holiday from now on.

Possibly in the turlit.

Your pal, who likes that you're accidently an asshole sometimes,


Don Hall said...

In the Neanderthal Seminar, do I get to be, like, the test case?

I'm very nearly a simian as it is, you know (although, accordingly to my blog, a very sexy simian...)

Freddie said...

What Rebar said. It's clear as a bell. My old man always says "don't give'em an inch".

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