On a recent lovely fall day, I decided to visit a Denver area Barnes & Nobel bookstore. The idea was to browse through the shelves, to enjoy a cup of lightly sweetened herbal tea and a bakery treat, and to catch-up on answering overdue e-mails. Before making my way to the coffee shop nature called. I also wanted to change my shirt. The tank top I was wearing kept stretching, and I was worried about exposing my belly button.
Since I was changing clothes, I decided to use the handicapped stall. I pushed the middle front of the tan door open with my elbow. When I looked down there was feces smeared by the door latch. I quickly washed my hands and changed my shirt in the bathroom’s common area. I then found a store assistance and gave a report. “The bathroom needs attention right away. This is gross, really gross….,” I quietly said to the young man categorizing books in the gardening section. “I am sorry that you or one of the other staff members have to clean this up.” The conversation deteriorated from there about disgusting things that people do or don’t do.
I made my way to the coffee shop and ordered ONLY a beverage. My appetited had waned. As I sat down, opened my laptop, and found my way to the store’s unsecured WIFI, I noticed a group of physically and mentally challenged individuals sitting in a corner section. Wheelchairs, walkers, and canes were abundant. Kind-hearted caregivers surrounded the group assisting with food placement, napkin and straw gathering, and even feeding those who struggled with using utensils.
It hit me like a bolt of lightning. My husband was once struck by lightning, so I feel like I can use the term with some authority. The unpleasant mess in the store’s bathroom wasn’t created out of viciousness but out of lack of ability. My disgust turned to compassion. The thought of someone not being able to cleanse himself or herself brought tears to my eyes. I was also disgustingly disgusted with myself. Why does my mind generally go to places of indignation? I often assume the worst without thinking through other options.
Sometimes the first step in growing, is recognizing the need to change.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving
and tolerant of the weak and strong…
- George Washington Carver