We condemn because we can. Others stay mute, say not one word about themselves; even though, they should. We whine about our hair length, eye color, fingernails, asking God for a redo or an exchange of something on our bodies. They do not ask for another opportunity or a fixture to their own blemish. They live life to the degree in which they can now, not flawless, but at least somewhat happy.
Happiness is not only an emotion but also a state of mind. I attempt to live by this aphorism; even in the pit of obscurity, I am happy, not because I should be, but because happiness is a gift that we should never take for granted. We are all auspicious to be alive.
One summer of my life, I earned community service hours at the local hospital gift shop and restaurant. It was one of the most life-halting moments of my life where I reflected about every notion I have ever twisted in my mind. It was the action and look of one man who influenced me for a lifetime.
When I first arrived, I had low expectations of what morally I could take from the situation beyond spending quality time with my grandma who worked there. I figured it would be a rapid six days and something that would not be memorable in ten years. I anticipated helping the other workers clean tables, amassing the trash, and perhaps even getting drinks for the customers; however, what I actually did was far more complex and a more glossary illustration on “earning” community service hours. It was not a stroll in the park.
Working in the hospital was actually quite chaotic from what I expected to be as well. “Ashley, generate two Lee specials. Ashley, no B on the BLT. Ashley, bake a batch of icing for the gobs.” Continuous orders came into the kitchen as I, surprisingly, prepared them. I learned how to grill a burger, which I found fascinating, because I am not really domesticated. Having the pressure to memorize the menu, prices, and all ingredients, as well as the setup of the plates of food were also part of my daily routine there. Occasionally though, I had the opportunity to be liberated from back away in the kitchen; I was with the public, the customers, in the actual restaurant serving them.
Over the days, I saw many people come in and out to eat – the young lawyers drinking black coffee dressed in suits, average looking and nothing special, the elderly couple slowly biting their sandwiches. They could possibly put every single living thing on earth to sleep. Even a doctor and his wife on lunch break, egotistical smartness but dull personalities and conversations amongst them – yet nothing could have primed me for that one customer though, the one who I could not control my eyes off of. That instant, will always stick, embossed, and imprinted in my psyche.
I am not one to evaluate someone else; however, judging myself is an everyday affair. I believe every person in humanity suffers from this psychological problem. As we stare at someone, we either become more egocentric, for we suppose we are superior to him or her, or our self-assurance leisurely fades when compared to someone more eye-catching or exceptional. How can I be as beautiful as she? Does he have a better future than I do? This man was dissimilar, although his appearance was different; he did not deserve to be judged because his anguish was far larger than mine had ever been ever. He had contentment in his eyes, though, despite that fact that I had fear in my eyes when looking at them. I was pleased, because despite his situation, he seemed satisfied.
He sat there peering at his Hershey bar, Pepsi, and French fries while being wheeled to the cash register. His apparel shouted “Average Joe,” for it was unadorned: sky cobalt oversized blouse, navy jeans, and pasty tennis shoes. He had profound russet eyes, and just a smidgen darker buzz cut coffee hair. At some point during his life, he had a tracheotomy meaning a plastic tube connected a gash in his throat, like a piping system into a ventilator. His skin was a fleshy orange tone and he had to be in his early twenties from my guess.
Everything affects people in some way, but when someone in the category around people’s own age is the one affected, it strikes people harder. What if that was I? There would be no point to live; does he secretly wish to die? He tried to move his hands while eyeing his sweets, but in his failure, there came only a slight shuffle and tremble of his fingers. He was paralyzed, with only control of those slight moving fingers and his neck, able to turn just enough to look each way.
I do not know how it happened, why, where, or when, but it did not matter. This man sitting in his wheelchair had the right to complain about his life with its limitations now; however, he did not. In my mind, I dashed across everything he could pine for being paralyzed: Could he still have his own biological children? Would he ever stride on legs again? Will his life evermore be marooned in a two-foot-by-two-foot black suede platform restrained in a silver faultless metal jungle, while his body is in a mummy straightjacket, where no matter what he undertakes and postulates, he will never be able to move?
I am a typecast. I judged him on his physical impairments, not on who he really was; nevertheless, in that matter of seconds he had inculcated me a life lesson. That man deserved to protest to others as much as he wanted. He deserved to have a second chance, to move free like the rest of us who take it for granted, but he never did. This man could have said anything to me. The young lively girl with her life still full of potential, dressed in the denims, a sweatshirt, prancing around the space serving others only because she had to according to her school, although, he never did. This man simply smiled and I returned the grin.