About a month after I moved to Cody, a handyman came by my residence to take a look at the dishwasher. I didn’t know how to fix it, and rather than risk wrecking it (and having to replace it out of my own pocket), I asked my landlord to help me out.
It didn’t take long for the handyman he sent to figure out what was wrong and put the machine back together again, now ready to save me from the drudgery of soap and hot water every night. In truth, now that I have a working dishwasher, I let dishes stack up more than I ever did without it, but I digress.
After he put it back together and tested it to make sure it was working, the handyman called me over and proceeded to explain, in excruciating detail, how to use the modern marvel he had just repaired.
“I’m not a child,” I remember thinking. “I’ve seen a dishwasher before. There’s only one place the detergent can go. I think I’ve got this.”
I’ll admit, I was annoyed. There I was, standing in my kitchen half-listening to this stranger talk to me as if I were a child. The interaction stuck with me. Did I really give off such a strong odor of helplessness that everyone thought I couldn’t do something as simple as use a dishwasher?
What was next – would I receive a master class in making cereal? Would someone educate me on how to properly drink from a cup that didn’t have a sippy lid?
I hate to admit it, but I stewed on that conversation for the rest of the day, until a thought hit me. Maybe he didn’t think I was stupid or helpless. He was old enough to be my grandfather. Maybe I reminded him of his grandkids and he wanted to be helpful. Maybe he wanted to make my life easier. Maybe he wasn’t being condescending, just concerned.
As soon as I had that thought, I felt bad, but for different reasons. No, maybe I didn’t give off an air of stupidity (the jury is still out on that one). I had chosen annoyance instead of gratitude. I had chosen anger instead of kindness.
It would have been so easy to see those instructions as a kindness. Nothing in his tone or delivery suggested he wanted to be anything but helpful. I was so absorbed in my own life and my own story that I forgot for a moment that other people exist, too, and not all of them are jerks.
Most people aren’t jerks. Most people aren’t bad people. We’re all just trying to get through this job we didn’t apply for called life and sometimes, more often than not, we try to help each other get through it.
Some may call this outlook gullible or naive. I’d call them jaded. We choose how we interact with each other. We can choose to be cold and see the worst in each other, or we can choose to be warm and treat each other as humans. We need more kindness in the world. Choose Kindness.