Daily Archives: September 6, 2011

On Occasionally Being a Horrible Human Being

As the author of this blog, there’s one thing I try to emphasize as often as required: Although I may write about good deeds, I’m no girl guide. On the contrary, I’m usually a reasonable distance from saintly. I’m like most of you readers. I get inspired by giving, I feel connected during moments of compassion. And sometimes I screw up badly.

Last week, while in a semi-public building with my daughter and a young friend, nature gave the three of us a call. We sought out the nearest restroom. It was after hours, the custodian was about to close up the place, and our voices echoed off the walls as we entered the quiet-looking ladies’ room. So when I took a stall and was immediately and strongly assaulted in the olfactory sense, I didn’t think anything of making a string of brazen comments. I scooted across to the other row of stalls, loudly laughing to the girls that it wasn’t possible to do my business near such a bomb site. The words “ground zero” were used. A fair amount of hilarity ensued.

It wasn’t until I was washing my hands and glancing into the mirror that my laughter died away. Right behind me was a single occupied stall. It was close to the entrance. Which is why we’d missed it when we first walked in.

In that moment, my big mouth and I understood just how cruel we’d been.

I muttered something about meeting my daughter outside, and slunk out of that restroom fast. If I’d had a tail, it would have been between my legs. I wailed to the friend who was waiting for me: “I am a horrible, horrible human being!” But, of course, I couldn’t take back what I’d done. Not only was the poor woman in the bathroom dealing with bad guts, but I’d just made her feel worse about it.

It doesn’t matter how many good deeds we do, or discuss, or inspire. It doesn’t even begin to take the edge off an act of unkindness. Good and bad acts don’t cancel each other out, it just doesn’t work that way. I left that public washroom feeling like the biggest heel around.

If there’s a lesson in this, it’s that it wouldn’t hurt to watch my words more carefully. (At least while out in public. I can’t promise that my immediate household will be spared my smartmouth.) Something to strive for.

Well, I didn’t mean to bring the house down, so now for a pick-me-up: A woman named Lisa Carter (I don’t know her, although I like her first name) has tapped this website for the Versatile Blog Award. I’m going to duck the rules on this one, since they sound suspiciously similar to the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award bestowed here several weeks ago. But nevertheless I appreciate the honour, and I’m sending Lisa a genuine thank you and a virtual pot of chrysanthemums. Merci!