Whatever does not kill us only makes us stronger. After a week like this, I sometimes fight over whether this is true or not. Without getting too much into the un-necessary details, lets just say if it could go wrong, it did. It seemed to climax in horribleness on Tuesday. I was closing that night and was just wishing that the terrible day would end. I honestly thought the one thing that jinxes it every time, "this day could not possibly get any worse". Oh but I did not see this coming. I made the normal announcement at work to let customers know that we would be closing in five minutes. I see one of our regular customers on the monitor up front looking very angry (which is normal as this woman is the most consistently angry person I have ever come across). As I went up she left and the cashier then told me how she was yelling about how annoying my announcement was and that she wanted to cut open my throat herself and yank out my voice box. There were some other visuals in this tantrum, but you get the point. I could not believe it. I had not provoked this woman, singled her out, been anything but courteous and yet she was threatening me over the sound of my voice. That was the last straw. I left the floor, went to the back to "lock up", but just lost it. I hate crying in public so the back was the best I could do. What had I done to this woman? Why was she so cruel? And what would I do when I see her again? I slept very little that night dwelling on this event.
As I became more and more frustrated on why she chose me for her target, I read a quote from John Steinbeck. He said, "A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ." I am not sure why this struck me the way it did, but it got me thinking about what this woman's life must be like to make her behave in such a way. I just cannot accept that some people are born cruel and genuinely unkind. But rather that situations in their lives have warranted developing such a negative defense mechanism. I wish I knew why she behaved the way she had, or what I could have done differently as to have evaded the whole experience. But the sentence haunted me. To have a sad soul, what a heavy burden that must be to bear. Hope is powerful. Resilience coupled with that hope can overcome any obstacle, but to lack both would be the definition of tragedy. After going over every dramatic, mean one liner I could think of to say to this woman should I run into her (and in this small a community it is inevitable) I realized the person I was truly hurting was myself. I had allowed her negativity to get the better of me. And the sadness that had entered my soul was killing me far more quickly than being sick ever could. Then I went back and read one of my favorite lines ever written. "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." ~Ben Okri As much as I felt angry for what this woman said, perhaps she has far more suffering and sadness than I can understand. Although I am definitely a work in progress, I hope that when I see her again, I can approach her with kindness and compassion. Perhaps the world would be a far kinder place if we aided in not only the healing of our physical ailments, but helping heal our souls as well.