moved

January 10, 2015

generally speaking,
i am pretty much a misanthrope.
and unabashedly so.

for the most part
i distrust people
and think the world,
on the whole,
is shit.

my general response to the world
has been to create a bubble around myself,
one of as much beauty and acceptance as i can find.

i’m lucky in that i’ve a lot of privilege
relative to the rest of the world;
i’m white.
i’m male.
i’m (excessively) educated.
all things that help to counteract
the palpable oppressive force of the straight world.

(it wasn’t easy growing up queer when i did. at all.)

and so today i find myself nearly moved to tears
(the strange man plastering the walls in my bathroom
is the only thing really keeping me in check)
because i’ve been bombarded from all sides
by random acts of kindness,
kindnesses of which i’m rarely in need
and i would never have expected to receive if i were.

it began at the red hook in ferndale,
a coffee shop i frequent semi-regularly.
for whatever reason, i only had my debit card on me, and
for whatever reason,
it was declined.
twice.

which is odd,
as i just got paid yesterday.

the worker bee shrugged it off,
telling me not to worry about it,
and waited on the next customer.

i was,
of course,
a little chagrined
but figured i’d pay for it the next time i was in,
chalking it up to one of the small perks of being a regular.

but then i realized that i’d just ‘bought’ a bagel
at the new york bagel baking company
not ten minutes prior.
i recalled the lady saying she needed to run my card again.
on the second swipe told me i was “all set”
and i headed off to the red hook.

i can only surmise
that she spared me the embarrassment
of telling me my card was declined
and just gave me my bagel.

my middle class guilt made me queasy
and i vowed to tip big the next time i bought a bagel.

then the final straw.
as i headed home i realized i was low on gas.
very low.
so low,
i wasn’t sure i’d make it home.
i found a single dollar in that compartment
between the driver and passenger seats
(what the fuck is that called, anyway?!)
enough for about a half a gallon.

about two miles from home,
with my fuel meter telling me i had 0 miles left,
i pulled over to a gas station,
handed the attendant
my sad little dollar,
and pumped the .56 gallons of gas into my tank,
plenty to get me home to my wallet and another gas station.

as i hung up the pump,
the attendant’s voice came over the speaker
telling me, and anyone else in hearing for that matter,
that the man in line behind me said that
he’d put $20 on my pump if i wanted.

a wave of unfamiliar emotion came over me,
some combination of
what i can only describe as
a combination of fear, shame, and humility.

i declined,
shouting, “no, no, that’s ok!”
with no clue how the attendant could hear me,
quickly hopped in my car
and spend away home.

i’m not sure what to say about all this.
i just knew i needed to write it all down as soon as possible.
i knew i needed to document what happened to me because, somehow,
it’s important.

i don’t know what it means,
i don’t know what my reaction says about me.
i think maybe it’s actually very sad
that such small kindnesses
could disconcert me so.
that people being kind
is so outside my personal experience
that the experience of kindness overwhelms me.

perhaps that proves i am right,
and the world is just as shitty as i think it is.

but at least for today,
i’m grateful
that it was less so.