As I begin writing this, Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is fading out on the Pandora Radio playing at the very place where I ran into the above-mentioned gentleman. In full disclosure, this is one of the handful of tracks that can instantly make me blubber like a four year-old with a skinned knee, along with “True Love Waits” by Radiohead, “Big Me” by the Foo Fighters, and just about anything by Pearl Jam. So this will be a challenge for me to get this out without making a disgusting public spectacle of myself.
To attempt to make a long story short, a few weeks back, I was going through a bit of a rough spot, both professionally and personally. Things at work were becoming a soul-crushing bore and my significant other and I were having one of those periods in a relationship where you feel lior things are teetering on a ledge and could go off the cliff at any moment. Needless to say, things could’ve been better.
Anyway, I finish my shift at a local cafe and decide to have a coffee at the bar, because what’s better for depression and anxiety than caffeine? The waitress places my coffee in front of me, along with packets of cream, which I immediately proceed to open and pour into my cup. I set my mug down after a hearty sip and lay my hand onto the bar, which inadvertently lands onto the stirrer, acting as a catapult that flings near-empty creamer containers into the air. Some of it lands on me. Some on the bar. A lot of it onto the large, beefy arms of the bearded gentleman two stools away. I freeze. I then immediately and profusely apologize, fearing an angry tirade from what looked to be the spawn of Ben Roethlisberger, Ron Swanson, and the Brawny guy. After the apologies spill out of my mouth, not knowing what to expect, this angel of a man simply looks at me, shakes his head and said “hey man, it happens,” and smiled. I can’t honestly say that I expected him to stand up and beat the shit out of me, but I definitely didn’t see that coming. It was as if he was going through just as hard of a time as I was, or somehow read my mind and knew exactly how I felt. Either way, I wanted to hug him and throw him a parade.
I feel that lately empathy is a vanishing commodity in our country and in the world at large, and so behavior that we used to expect and demand as common courtesy is a rarity and often gets overlooked because we’re so used to seeing it on such few occasions. I say this so that I make sure that not only that I acknowledge that it still exists in spades, but that I share it with others to assure them that people like this still exist.
And to the saint at the bar, wherever you may be, cheers. Your parade, Nobel Peace Prize, or just a beer, is awaiting you.