At the gas station

I was filling up my car the other day, and decided to go into the convenience store to get a bottle of water.

A young Black woman was coming up at the same time.  I held the door and let her go in first, which is what I would do for anyone.  

She gave me a strange look.  Her eyes looked almost angry, but that wasn’t quite what she was giving off.  Being a take-the-weight-of-the-world-on-my-shoulders-kind-of-guy (what caregiver isn’t?), I wondered what I’d done to offend her.

So I’m over at the cooler debating brand and volume of bottled water, and she walks up to me, still with a rather serious face, and hugs me.  Then her face softened into a smile and she left.

All I can figure is that an old White guy holding the door for her was an unexpected courtesy.  American Blacks are a tiny part of the populace here in Sioux Falls; we do have a significant population of recent African immigrants from various countries.  Either way, she’s probably felt like a fish out of water, and maybe been on the bad end of some hot insults or colder but just as hurtful gestures of annoyance or disrespect.

What’s it have to do with care giving?

Caregivers and the people in our care are the ones who block the supermarket aisle with our contraptions or behavioral havoc.

We are the ones bringing embarrassing noise or antics to your restaurant dining experience.

We’re the ones who look just fine but get ahead of you in line at Disneyland.

Some of you say stuff – on a trip to Disneyland we got a “So what’s wrong with him?” about our son – others of you just snort or roll your eyes or look daggers at us.

And some of you hold doors, or smile, or say an encouraging word.

Can’t promise to stop and hug all of you in the latter group, but you do change the emotional course of a day.

Thank you and ((( ))) <— (I think that’s a sign for hugs… forgive me if it’s an obscenity or something.  I’m old.)


4 thoughts on “At the gas station

  1. How much I can relate to this! Also I want to hug people I see who are hauling the wheelchair out of the trunk or positioning the cane by the door, etc. It is a hard job, and it’s great when someone expresses with a kind gesture that they get it. I do have a funny story of a man who saw me dragging the wheelchair out of the back of my car and asked, “Do you need any help?” and I answered, “That would be great, thank you!” But he was already gone! Not sure if he didn’t hear what I said, or if he was just taking a survey. It was a good day, though, so I just giggled.

  2. This is a great reminder even for us non-caregivers. We don’t go wrong when we approach people with the love of Christ and treat them with dignity and respect. Even the smallest of gestures can have an impact far beyond what we were thinking when we made it.

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