tonight, while walking out of Peet’s coffee with my first coffee in 6 (6!!) weeks, I saw something that will stick with me forever.
a girl, maybe 15, was leaving a cafe with her dad. As they stepped out in front of me, I noticed that something was just a little off – the dad’s disheveled clothes, unkempt hair, and labored stagger was a hard contrast to the pretty, well put-together, capable girl with the clean private school uniform. As I watched him veer on the sidewalk in front of me, I couldn’t help but think – “wow. that guy is drunk.”
as he turned towards his car in the parking lot, which was parked right next to mine, he tripped over the curb, using my car to steady himself –
“Dad!” the girl exclaimed. Surprised, I looked right at her, and we locked eyes for just a split second. In that second, this is what I saw:
Panic. Fear. Shame. Sadness. Embarrassment. Extreme embarrassment. The kind of god-i-hope-she-didn’t-see-that embarrassment that all of us felt sometime or another when we were 15, for a variety of reasons.
her reason is never a reason a 15 year old should feel that feeling.
I just smiled and opened my car. Her dad laughed it off, loudly, and I was able to catch a glimpse of him as he pulled himself clumsily into the car. in my best opinion he was, most definitely, intoxicated.
i followed them until they turned into a neighborhood, watching as he put on his left blinker to the get into the right lane, rode the center line, cut someone off, moving very slow and then speeding up – straight out of the handbook. it was disturbing, to say the least, and, thinking back, I wish I would have done something more.
what I can’t stop thinking about even more, however, is this:
that girl will go to a birthday party this weekend, and most likely no one will know. she will go to the movies and hang out with her friends, and most likely they won’t know. she will go to school on Monday and her teachers, her peers, her enemies – few will know. She seemed smart and sweet, and maybe that’s how people know her, but many will not know the PanicFearShameSadnessgod-i-hope-she-didn’t-see-thatEmbarrassment that she experienced tonight, or who knows how many other nights.
that girl and her look made me so, so sad. i really wish her such good things, and will think about her more than I should.
Michael Woolson (a new About Page is on its way in the next day or so, with a cheat sheet on the key players 🙂 ) always reminds us of something to this effect :
“Bring light and compassion into every interaction, with everyone – you just never know what might be going on.”
You just don’t know.
You don’t know what just happened to them, you don’t know what happened a long time ago; you don’t know what someone just said to them, or what they just saw; what thoughts haunt them and run through their head constantly, or what feeling they have in the pit of their stomach. And, of course, they don’t know about you. It’s not always up to us to find out, but I think we can all follow Woolson’s advice – bring as much compassion and light to every interaction as you possibly can.
because! you just don’t know.