I ran into the other end of the spectrum.
I’ve been talking a lot about the support we’ve been receiving, from sources known and unknown, the connections, the reinforcement of humanity. It can make you forget that there are people who won’t wish you well, who won’t wish anything beyond the end of their own nose, who expect but do not return. In one day, I’ve had two such exchanges.
The first took place in my building, which has elevators. As anyone who has followed my blog at all over the past two weeks can surmise, things in my life have been a little unsteady. Life and death and consequences and repercussions and fear and hope all vie for front space in my head, all the time, every moment. I can somehow access a part in front of the rest of my mind for polite exchanges with people who don’t know or don’t need to know what’s happening. With all that going on, today I committed a sin against the two elderly residents who were in the elevator with me today, as well as all elevator kind.
I used a luggage cart in the passenger elevator.
Not the freight elevator, mind you.
The passenger elevator.
Now for those of you who are still reading, who haven’t shut down your computer in disgust after firing off a letter to your congressman about my appalling behavior, in my defense, I usually do use the freight elevator for freighty stuff, though since they updated the elevators, no one seems to be too hung up on which elevator people use these days.
Except those two old guys. Yes, I called them old guys. They deserve it, old is a mindset, not an age, I promise you’ll agree.
Again, if you read back over my previous posts, my mind’s preoccupied. So I said, jokingly, of course I’m getting off on the highest floor among us, thinking they would at least crack a smile.
In fact I could feel the persnickety filling the elevator like an unsmellable toxin the more the floors beeped past. We finally reached old guy #1’s floor.
In order to exit the elevator, he had to turn about twelve degrees to his right to get past the luggage cart, which was apparently too great an inconvenience for him to bear.
“I guess the freight doesn’t go to your floor,” he said through gritted teeth as he stormed out of the elevator.
I stuck my head out of the car and called after him, saying that I was awaiting the outcome of a life-or-death situation, but thanked him for being so prissy about it.
But he was not to be outdone by old guy #2. I said to him, “You can see why I wasn’t thinking about which elevator to use.”
He says to me, “You really are supposed to use the freight elevator.”
So let me stop right here in the exchange. For anyone who might be reading this blog, the correct response to someone who has just revealed that a family member is teetering on the edge, in a neither world for which there is no language, is not “you should be using the freight elevator.”
In fact, the self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and blatant rudeness of such a reaction to my words stunned me. What those words meant was “I don’t care that your world is turned upside down. You have made me vaguely uncomfortable for a tiny duration of time, and I want to make sure I punish you for that.”
When I called after the man, he didn’t slow, he didn’t turn around, he didn’t even turn his head.
He didn’t even have the humanity to look ashamed.
Neither of them did.
Men that old should know better. Men that old must have lost people and feared losing people. Men that old should know that you should say, “I’m sorry, I hope your situation improves.”
Not “you need to take the freight elevator.”
My friend, Curly von Curls, instead of getting angry when someone swoops around her in traffic and starts weaving like a used-up boxer, says, “they must be off to save lives.” I guess that’s what I’m saying: you never really know when lives are at stake, and when they are, we should be generous, not crotchety.
As for the other interaction, well, this was longer than I expected, so we’ll save that one for another day.