Comfort Food for an Uncomfortable Situation
I’ve already warned the Trio of my potential for imperfect friendship – and probably proven it a time or two. Yep, it’s confession time people so settle in.
I’m not saying I’m a horrible person, I’m just suggesting that you might reserve judgment until you hear the whole story and consider thoughtfully the full import of how YOU might react in a stressful, unexpected situation. It happened years ago when I was still working in the public school system and went to a conference in San Francisco with my dear colleague, Peggy. We had given the workshops on special education law a fair shake, but we were feeling restless and decided to skip an afternoon and see the city with an old friend of mine who lived in the area.
We spent the day seeing authentic sights like amazing poppy gardens, historic missions and a Catholic Church whose afternoon sun cast a breast like shadow on the nearby park. My friend really knows how to give a tour with local flair.
It was a trek back to the hotel from there, but this city is known for its transit system – The Bart. Surely two smart women from Wyoming could find their way back without too much trouble.
Turns out, there was only one flaw in our plan– we had to transfer to a bus and we didn’t know the name of our last stop. With hubris, faith, and a mere two days under our belt, we counted on the familiarity of the surrounding buildings, but newly descending night has a way of morphing the familiar into the foreign.
We gambled on a stop that appeared promising, but as the bus pulled away I felt it.
While there wasn’t an axe wielding psychopath near us at that moment, there was a palpable sense of lurking evil.
It was not good.
Peggy, graciously carrying our items in a backpack, and I reluctantly headed into what felt like the devil’s lair; an empty, foreboding street.
Right away, the ominous red flashing lights of an ambulance ahead confirmed my right to panic. I just kept thinking, Sweet Mother, we are going to die! Maybe someone already has! I was brought back to a terrifying reality when a homeless man’s sing-song voice mocked us from the shadows, “Welcome to the Tenderloin, are you sure you wanna go there?”
He was faceless and sounded like the Reaper.
And that’s when it happened.
I knew without a doubt that I could run faster than Peggy and her wellbeing was no longer of my concern. Sayonara, sister! Hope that creepy homeless man doesn’t kill you! I was smaller and faster and I didn’t look back.
I abruptly switched directions, turned a corner and practically crashed into a waiting taxi (I still don’t know why a random taxi was just sitting there). Peggy eventually caught up and we took that taxi to our hotel a block away.
That was literally the difference between heaven and hell, one damn block.
The entire episode seems rather benign now. No peril actually existed, but my gutless reaction blew the barn door off my self-image. It just seemed so against my nature.
The very act of leaving someone vulnerable is intolerable to me. I guess my willingness to sacrifice Peggy like a lamb just proves that we can't foretell our reaction in certain situations. We can try to control how we are in the world, but inevitably, moments like this will come out of nowhere and surprise us with a distasteful revelation about our primal selves.
I have gradually learned to accept that I am not perfect. In a flash of what I perceived as danger, a part of my true character was revealed and while it was uncomfortable to witness, I now search for moments of self-improvement through experience.
Integrating and accepting our flaws makes us more authentic and does not repel love, but rather invites it.
At least, that’s what my Trio friends tell me.
And if you happen to invite me for a little Friendship Soup, well, I’ll be there.
Unless you are serving it on a scary street in the dark.
Then, you’re on your own!
Peace & Light
Talk Back to the Trio
Have you ever judged someone in a tough situation based on how you think you would react?