Friday, July 18, 2014

Thanks, Guys - I Forgive You

This post is an oddball. It has nothing to do with writing, or even my tangential reports of synchronicity. Instead, the following post is a hodgepodge: part confessional, part essay, part existential reflection. It could, I suppose, also be considered a transmutation of sorts, being my attempt to extract something good from an ugly experience.

So, if you don't want to read something you might find entirely irrelevant and uninteresting, please stop now. Otherwise, here goes:
Dear Dazed Gentleman at the Goodwill store this afternoon, 
I forgive you for cutting in front of me in the checkout line, even though I'd been plainly standing there for several minutes beforehand. Instead of taking offense, I gave you the benefit of a doubt that you just hadn't noticed me, and politely informed you that I had preceded you in line. Also, I would like to thank you, for by blatantly cutting in front of me in this manner, you gave me the chance to react with patience and consideration. See, I consider these to be valuable skills, and through my interaction with you, I was able to exercise them and, thus, gain confidence in my ability. After all, it's one thing to think yourself patient and considerate, but it's quite another to actually practice those things, and unexpectedly, no less, in a crowded public place and when I wasn't feeling well to begin with. I consider that part a bonus, for if you can show kindness in a long line of impatient people while nauseous and with a splitting headache, then you can show it anytime, I think. 
Likewise, I forgive you, sir, for cutting in front of me a second time. When you stepped back out of line to allow me to go forward, I saw how your wife (I'm assuming she was your wife) instructed you to return to the line, even though she'd just witnessed my quiet defense of my place. I saw in your eyes how dazed you were, and even though you could obviously understand me and your actions, I know how it can feel to be pulled in two directions at once. And, once again, your cutting back in front of me offered me another chance to show patience and consideration in the face of disrespect -- and now when I was surprised. After asserting myself and my place in line, I certainly didn't expect you to jump right back in, that's for sure. But I think I did a pretty good job of reacting well and continuing to show you compassion, altogether avoiding a scene. 
Dear Dazed Gentleman's Assumed Wife, 
I forgive you, also, for directing your dazed husband right back in front of me after I'd asked him not to. I could see in your body language that you too were not thinking clearly, though perhaps not in the same fashion as your husband. When you disrespected me so, and in full view of myself, just feet away, it felt like a slap in the face, amplified somewhat due to how sick I was feeling; but, of course, you didn't know that. 
And, of course, I should thank you, too. As with everything else in this bizarre and awkward encounter, your disregard gave me the chance to employ my principles in a real-life situation -- and a rather exceptional situation at that. Any other day, when the line wasn't so long or I didn't feel so bad, your behavior might've only been trying rather than potentially upsetting -- but, in any case, I managed to show you the same patient compassion that I did your husband, without wavering in the least. See, it's been a study of mine, to show compassion and understanding while still asserting my rights when violated, and I know now I can perform in this capacity, thanks to you and your husband. I can't say I understand what you were thinking, acting this way, but I suppose that doesn't really matter at this point. 
Dear Angry Gentleman Who Confronted Me Outside The Store, 
I forgive you, as well, for accusing me of disrespecting the dazed couple in the store. When you first stopped me outside, after I'd made my purchase, my initial thought was that you were a relative of the dazed couple, come to apologize for their behavior and, perhaps, commend me on my patient response (I must admit: I surprised even myself with the calmness of my requests not to cut in front of me). So, when you gave me a hard stare and informed me that you would "stomp my ass" if you ever caught me "acting that way" again, I was surprised anew. 
I forgive you because, as I can see now, you probably possess a skewed sense of respect -- a widespread condition, in my experience. For you, respecting one's elders equates to ignoring your own rights and their violation, rather than any sort of genuine, mutual consideration. All you saw, I think, is me asserting myself and refusing to show favor to a dazed elderly couple. (I suppose I should've allowed the man to steal my wallet, too, while I'm on the slippery slope of ignoring violation.) Thus, in your eyes, everything I said and did was distorted, so that however respectfully I defended my place in line, I was "treating them like shit." Also, I forgive you for disallowing me to explain my actions (that it was the principle of the situation, me needing to assert my rights regardless of who is violating them, having nothing at all to do with waiting an extra few minutes in line), instead repeating your threats of violence and then walking away. I can understand wanting the last word, after all; it makes you appear right. 
And, at last, I would like to thank you, too, for you added a truly unforeseen climax to this experience -- the cherry on the sundae, so to speak. Whereas the dazed couple had given me the chance to react well despite offense and surprise, your confronting me pushed the envelope, allowing me to show compassion under threat of violence. I confess: a part of me wanted to blow up at you, since, after my blatant mistreatment in the store, you added insult to injury, in a specific way that felt especially bad. But, once again, this only gave me the chance to resist falling prey to an emotional reaction that would only make things worse -- which, I think even you would agree, I achieved, maintaining composure and complete respect for you, in the heat of the moment. In fact, it took me all of seconds afterward to both forgive and thank you for this experience, even as the stain of it lingered over me, feeling like a kind of psychic rape. Once more, I don't think you knew what you were inflicting on me, so I can't really fault you for it. Could a newborn be faulted for crying?
There, that's all.

A small, romantic part of me entertains a fantasy: that the actual actors in this strange drama will somehow discover this blog and read of my forgiveness and gratitude (which was fully sincere, mind you), against all logic and odds and common sense. Hey, that's about as likely as any of the synchronistic "coincidences" I've cataloged in other posts. If nothing else, I got to purge some of the experience's unsettling afterglow, and provide my reader with a glimpse into the heads of some very confused people -- or, do you feel I'm the confused person, standing up for myself instead of allowing some dazed old folks to cut in front of me in line ...? Such is the eternal divide between our individual realities, I suppose, where "po-tay-toe" will forever oppose "po-tah-toe."

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