A dash of un-kindness…
Last week I envisioned all of the lovely things I’d show you on my blog this week. The new autumn soup recipes, the projects I started, the photos from our lovely trip down to the market and highlights from a beautiful weekend filled with sunshine, friends and all around goodness. Here I sit, on Monday morning, holding none of that in my pocket.
Well, we did make it to the Eastern Market, and I managed to think it was pretty cool despite the fact that I felt like poo and would rather have been home in bed. That was pretty much the most adventurous thing that I took on though. Projects were abandoned, (minus one, but I’ll tell you guys about that later) plans with friends were cancelled.
All was not lost though…
When people engage me in conversation about our living near Detroit, they love to bait me on how horrible people must be here. Sure, everyone has heard something evil on the news about Detroit. If you’ve ever been here you’ll know, it’s a pretty contained issue. It’s a hard concept to grasp if you’re used to the sort of issues stemming from problems similar to California/PHX, or even the Treasure Valley. Those are more wide-spread issues. So, when I talk about us really living in a beautiful and safe area- (MUCH Safer than where we lived in Idaho, by HUGE degrees) they don’t get it. I’ve had a couple of people argue and argue about it. It’s pretty funny in that “wow, you’re really making yourself sound ignorant” way.
Anyway, that was all to preface.
In Idaho, it was really rare to run across someone who was truly and sacrificially kind. That’s not to say there aren’t those people, but it’s rare. Friends and I have been verbally accosted in the movie theater for absolutely no reason. My kids have been completely chewed out and verbally assaulted, just because. Road rage is a growing epidemic. We’ve been robbed, had cars broken into, been randomly threatened by angry strangers. Not all of the time, mind you, there’s just a cloud that seemed to settle over the world. People are increasingly entitled and angry. I’m sure it’s like that a lot of places, which is what makes this even more remarkable.
I try really hard to be kind to others. I try to think about how I never know what another persons day has been like, or where they are coming from. Sometimes I fail at this, but most of the time I do ok. Since we’ve been here, I’m consistently shocked by the random kindness in others. It comes so unexpectedly. I talked a few weeks ago about leaving my Kate Spade wallet on a bench at a movie theater. Well, Gen and I had been sitting there for a while and we had already witnessed the kindness of people several times leading up to that. In fact, we were in awe and discussion of that very thing, when I walked away from my beloved wallet and exited the theater once my husband joined us. (we’d seen separate movies and ours got out before his) when he nobly ran in to get it (keep in mind this was a BUSY theater) not only did people try to help him, but the woman who found it wanted to walk it to the manager so that the safety of the wallet was in tact in case HE wasn’t who he said he was. She was disabled, and it was a long walk, but she did that out of kindness because it was right thing to do.
Moments after this, we witnessed a car catch on fire and watched people abandon their vehicles to try to help.
It’s kind of sad when kindness leaves us speechless…
Fast forward to Saturday. We made the trek into Detroit for what is the most amazing city market I’ve ever been to. It was incredible. My husband, who can be a bit uptight at times, was starting to get agitated about parking as there were likely thousands of cars parked and the parking was set up a bit odd, and it was all different than we’d expected. Nothing major, really. Then, we literally stumble upon the main market entrance and in what would be the CLOSEST spot possible to park, is a sweet elderly man walking to his car. He asks us if we would like his space, to which we thank him and say yes. Honestly, it would have been easier for him to wait for us to pass, but he wasn’t thinking about what was easier for him.
Throughout the market we encountered kindness after kindness. We were in a kind of euphoria.
When we went to leave, we did the same gesture to two women in need of a space, and they were so relieved. It felt awesome. Despite dealing with a cold, I was feeling fantastic. We were laughing and talking, the three of us, and just really caught up in an awesome moment as we turned into a bakery parking lot. The plan was to grab a cup of tea for the hour-long ride home and perhaps some bread for dinner with friends the next day. As we’re getting read to pull right into a space there is a car that seems to be backing out of a space across the row. Chw paused for a minute to see what they were doing, but the just sat there, so he parked.
He looks over and says to Gen and I “don’t get out of your doors yet, that car is backing into the space next to us.”
So we smile at them, and we wait.
Next thing we know, the couple is screaming at us. SCREAMING. And gesturing. I roll down my window and they proceed to go OFF. They hurl a racial slur, and rant about how they were going to back into the space we parked in, but we took it. (*note, they were not backing into it when we parked there.) We profusely apologized to them. This made them MORE angry.
They got out and went into the bakery. (from their parking space that was no closer to the door, mind you, but whatever.)
We sat there for a few minutes and couldn’t help but realize that their unkindness had deflated every ounce of joy or lightness. Finally Chw spoke up and said something about feeling like crap and how he didn’t know she’d wanted to space. He felt awful.
“Look”, I reassured him, “Regardless, we both apologized. If we were in the wrong, we took the responsibility. They chose to stay angry and get bitter about it. We don’t know where they are coming from but it’s obviously not a good place. We can’t let them steal our joy.”
And I meant it. But they still kind of did. We didn’t get out of our car and go in, what was the point? As we pulled out we noticed the man, who was in his late 40’s and not exactly kind looking, had been sitting outside the bakery facing our direction and still fuming. He did not look at all happy that he saw us leaving. I got a sick feeling in my gut about that all together, but chose not to dwell on it because we’d never know what his intentions where.
I learned a lot that day. A lot about how kindness can impact someone else, but even more how my angry reaction about something as trivial as a parking space (or anything) can affect someone else. I just kept thinking “are you kidding? You have an even better space, why are you so violently upset?” but I’m sure I’ve been there, and at those times I never stopped to see the situation clearly either…
Clearly- kindness matters…