I saw this You Tube video of a disabled girl singer on X-Factor a couple years ago. Something about her bugged me but she seemed nice. They were doing a little piece on her before she performed and she said something that, at the time, didn’t mean much to me but lately I can relate more. They asked her a question about what’s something that she dislikes. Her answer was, “I hate it when I know I can do something but I don’t do it.”. It seemed simplistic and not really profound but I kind of understood what she meant.
Today I was up at 3:30 am and I had a little snack and put away a few small things I had left in the living room and my freezer has badly needed defrosting for a few weeks so I thought, “WTH”, it seemed like a good time to do it since it was quiet and my roommate rarely leaves his room past 10:00 or 11:00 pm. It took me about 45 minutes because I also cleaned the refrigerator. Now they both look great.
So at 5:00 am I decided to go for a drive. It’s not something I normally do at that hour but I grabbed a cup of ice for the Dr. Pepper I knew was in my trunk and took off. I live in a nice area so it wasn’t stupid or dangerous. Anyways, after an hour I went to Wendy on a whim to see what they have for breakfast but they weren’t open and I had go to the bathroom so I left and drove to a nearby gas station.
As I pulled in to park I noticed a slim, kinda cute woman about 30 years old, I think she was sipping coffee. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and looked mostly normal but she was sitting on a curb, and with the look on her face I suspected maybe she had some kind of problem. She was dressed too nice and too clean to be homeless but it was just something about her. There were only two spots to park so I ended up parking really close to her.
I just wanted to use the bathroom but I prepared to maybe give her a “sympathy smile” because I got used to being friendly to homeless people or people from other group homes when I lived in downtown San Jose for two years. But I screwed up and when she looked at me it gave me a start and I kind of awkwardly looked at her and made her a little nervous and she turned her head and started talking to herself. I knew it was my fault so I kept walking into the little mini-mart to get the key but the lady said the bathroom was broken. So back to my car.
I looked at that woman and realized two things: one) she was not homeless, and two) she seemed friendly and cool so this time I smiled at her and said good morning like we were two human beings and I was right, she was cool and friendly and said good morning and she smiled. But I screwed up for no good reason and got formal again and said something awkward and she flinched again and stopped smiling. I just thought, “no use throwing good money after bad” and I didn’t want to bug her so I got in my car but I had a box of grahm crackers and I still felt like helping her so I asked her if she had eaten this morning. When she said no I gave her an unopened package. And to her credit, she was cool and smiled and maybe she didn’t think so badly of me.
But back to that disabled girl on TV. I knew I was perfectly able to handle myself way better than I did. I know I could have done it. When I’m in stores or restaurants I can say a few words and maybe crack a joke perfectly fine to cashiers or waitresses or waiters. But I did what my friend in the board & care in 1995 used to call “mind -f*cking” myself. I screwed myself up, almost on purpose, for no reason. As I drove away, I thought, “Now that’s how you blow an opportunity.” After I left I realized, “Hell, she was alone, she was friendly, it’s a beautiful morning; and I’m sure she would have been happy to have a friendly conversation.”
Well, I always say, “live and learn.” Next time it will go much better. But it bugged me that I blew it and an hour later I’m still thinking about it.