Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The bookstore at the junior college where I take my Spanish class was robbed this afternoon.

I was in there this evening returning a book, and after the cashier had adroitly dealt with a rude customer (who wanted to return a book without a receipt, and wasn't going to take no for an answer), she helped me. I felt compelled to apologize for the rude customer on behalf of all bookstore patrons. The cashier seemed to take it in stride, saying, with more than a twinge of sarcasm, "People like that make my day." Then she told me about the robbery. I was shocked and asked if she were okay. She said she was, but still shaken up. It was appalling that she was even still working. Shouldn't you get to take the rest of the day off, paid, when you've been held up?

Obviously, the rude, receipt-less customer had no idea what that cashier had been through earlier in the day when she was berating her. I lost my cool earlier this week when a neighbor's dog--running loose without a leash--was nearly hit by Bryan's car, and then ran into our garage and wouldn't leave. I shouldn't have yelled at the girl who owned the dog, and who was frozen on the street, refusing to come and get her dog. Maybe she had just been yelled at by her coarse father, maybe kids at school tease her for being chubby.


Kathryn Law said...

This is a very "zen" way of thinking, and is the heart of true compassion.

John said...

Michelle, I love this post. I think about this issue all the time. What many folks exhibit (including me, in the heat of anger) is an utter lack of imagination. They don't have the ability (or the time) to imagine what might have led others to where they are right now.

If fiction is instructional, it can help readers to exercise their ability to imagine others.

Here's a good article for the NY Times:

In it I read a bunch of folks who can imagine the lives of others so vividly that it compels them to be a good force in the world.

Michelle Panik said...

Wow. Wow. That's a hell of a story, John.