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!

7 responses to “On Occasionally Being a Horrible Human Being

  1. We’ve all done it at one time or another. The difference is that you were sensitive to the feelings of the other person and did not laugh all the harder because of her! Sadly, I’ve seen that done far too often.

    Kevin L.
    Halifax NS

  2. Versatile blog site. Sounds good. Certainly this is one of the few blogs I read religiously.

  3. Thanks for chiming in, both of you! Keep the feedback coming.

  4. I’m smiling. As a parent I could probably quote several embarrassing moments when I wish I could run away with my tail between my legs. On several occasions I wish I had a piece of tape to put over my child’s mouth. ..ha.ha… In my case its what they said while with ME in the stall and a room for of ladies waiting thier turn….ha.ha…. Or how about the openess of thier thoughts when you are standing in a line up and the person in front of you doesn’t exactly smell like a bed of roses. Yes….that’s always interest to recover from…

  5. Yep, often it’s the kids who speak their mind when you wish they wouldn’t! Once, I was walking with a neighbour’s little girl (age 7) and she pointed at a senior with a disability who was cycling by on a modified bike. I suggested to her that it wasn’t polite to point. Her reply: “At least I didn’t use my middle finger!” As an adult, though, I should have known better and held my tongue in that public washroom! I guess I haven’t really grown up.

  6. Lisa, I appreciate you putting yourself out there with this post. We’ve all done things like this, but you’ve highlighted the added importance of being a good role model for kids. The difference is that you realized your error immediately – many don’t! Try not to beat yourself up too much and use the experience as a lesson learned – for all involved. 🙂

  7. That’s just what I’m going for – thanks, Lorin!

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