For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Who said that first? Ian Maclaren? Who knows.
I think about that quote a lot on public transportation. If you commute by BMW (bus/metro/walk) you know a lot can cross your mind while sitting on that vehicle. Some mornings, instead of super-gluing my eyes to my phone, I look up. I observe the people around me. Their expressions, their mannerisms, yeah, a lot of times their clothes. I wonder, what brand was that girl’s bag? Occasionally, I’ll make up stories for them; who they are and where they’re going. It’s all fun and games until someone makes eye contact back with me. Then it’s heads down, thumbs on the screen.
But the most frequent times I think about that quote is when someone is rude on the metro. I encountered an elderly lady who accused me of pushing her the other day. The fact of the matter was I was being pushed into her by every other person behind me trying to get on the train. I kept quiet, per usual, but immediately vented via text to my sisters when I got to my part-time job. I was so angry about what happened and had a handful of things I wish I had said. But the more I thought about it, the more guilty I felt.
Yes, I had just had a mind-numbing, boring day in the office (low workflow this week). But maybe she had a terrible day and me accidentally pushing her was the icing on the cake. The tipping point.
Who knows? I may concoct an elaborate backstory for the tired looking woman in a dress that does nothing to her figure, but little do I know she may have four kids to feed, a high-stress job, and divorce papers sitting on her counter at home. You just never know.
Tonight I closed the center on my own. A small feat as I’ve done this many times. But, it being basketball as the open gym activity, the courts were full of teenagers. I was feeling particularly frantic because in the past kids = trouble. They often disregard the staff’s instructions and can be quite rude. Regardless I miraculously managed to get everyone out of the center by 9:01PM. I heard a few kids mumbling snide remarks to each other about my curt demeanor though.
As my muscles tensed I began to think about that quote, and how those kids don’t know I worked two jobs today. Totaling 12 hours, all to pay off my massive pile of student loan debt. Oh, and I have a bus to catch. If I miss this one I’ll be waiting another 30 minutes and might actually have to use my cute, pink taser on my walk home (many, many thanks to my Boyfriend for this gift).
Just as I was reaching my personal tipping point, much like that elderly lady on the train this week, I hear another remark from the kids. “Yeah, you’d want to get home too after working eight hours.” Bless that child’s soul. And bless his parents.
My faith in human was restored today. Thank you, kid who reached down and found empathy for me today. I hope someone does the same for you, whenever you fight your hard battle.