Today was a ghastly day for car jockeying.  The wind was freezing, snow was coming down here and there, and I woke up with a runny nose that is in the process of turning into a full-blown cold.

I was feeling very sorry for myself waiting for a bus at Hastings and Hawks. I had run out of dry Kleenex, and was left snuffling in the icy wind. Life was miserable.

“I thought I saw a bus.”  A girl hurried up beside me. She vibrated with cold and addiction. Her eyeliner was a quarter-inch thick under eyes that still looked hopeful.  I wondered how long she had been a prostitute, because it was pretty clear that that’s what she was.

“Yes, there it is! I can have a shower!” She was so happy.

“That’s always a good thing,” I murmured.

We got on the bus and sat opposite one another. She asked me the time.

“Ten to twelve.”

“Hey, that’s great! I can have chicken at the Gospel. Today’s chicken day, and it’s good chicken!” She nodded for emphasis. Her brown eyes widened.  “I never go except on chicken day.”

“It sounds good,” I replied.

My own tough day stopped looking so bad after that. I was cold and sick and grumpy, but I have food in my fridge. I have jobs I (mostly) love that allow me to ensure food in that fridge, and a warm bed every night, and a shower whenever I want it.

I’ve got it pretty good.

4 Comments to “Perspective.”

  1. By Beth, February 11, 2009 @ 3:41 am

    This is a caring and empathetic thought. But, it’s an idea that always makes me want to shake my head and disagree.
    I remember a diner somewhere in the US with homespun mottos on the walls. There was a poem beginning with the line, “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man that had no feet.” Maybe it was because the poem was so badly written that I felt offended.
    I remember a co-worker in a restaurant where I was a waitress. Anytime I ever said something like, “I’m tired” or “My back hurts” she’d say, “You think you’re tired. I’m so tired…” I resented that because she thought she’d outgunned me, I no longer had the right to my feeling.
    And it also reminds me of my best friend. She comes from a position of some priveledge, a family with some money. And she constantly apologises for feeling any kind of pain, physical or emotional, because she figures she doesn’t have the right to complain because everyone and their dog has more right than she does.
    I think that one person’s pain is their pain and they have the right to feel it and have it acknowledged regardless of the relative weight of it compared to someone else.
    Okay, I agree that I am a mountain of contradiction because I hate whiners. But that’s a whole ‘nother thing.
    And it was a cold, miserable day and having a runny nose and shivering at the bus stop was unpleasant for you regardless of the young thing with the eyeliner. You are allowed to feel bad just as much as she is allowed to be happy for showers and good chicken. Feelings are feelings and no one can say you shouldn’t feel them.
    Thus endeth today’s sermon.

  2. By Liz, February 11, 2009 @ 10:48 am

    I’ve seen that Man With No Feet poem. It is pretty sanctimonious.
    It’s true. I have a right to feel what I feel. That’s everybody’s right. But I’m not a hungry, unshowered junkie hooker. And right then, it was good not to be.

  3. By cheesefairy, February 12, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

    I think if it helps you think kindly of those less fortunate it is good to see that yours is only one kind of pain. (relative to your life experience…everyone’s scale of 1 – 10 is different, right?) But when people engage in Pain Olympics, then it is not productive because the motive is not compassion and understanding but Winning (or being a Gracious Loser / burning martyr.)

  4. By Liz, February 12, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

    I try to avoid the Pain Olympics (great name, btw) at all costs. Life’s too short for that stuff. Whoever wins is the person with the most pain? No thank you!

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