What do I care?

A woman was sobbing loudly and screaming at invisible people in front of the library today. I had been out all morning and was looking forward to getting home and eating peanut butter with homemade Parmesan crackers, so I walked on by. When I reached my bike, I looked back and saw that the only other person in the area was an adolescent boy who was beating a hasty retreat.

“Damn, I’m stuck,” I muttered. “Any other minute of any other day, and there would be a hundred drunks, druggies, pimps, whores, punks, Goths, hippies, skinheads, panhandlers, and homeless people standing around with their sleeping bags and pit-bulls admiring one another’s tattoos and nose-rings.”

“I’m having a panic attack,” she said when I asked how I might help. This didn’t fit with what I had witnessed, but I still felt relieved that she might not be out and out psychotic. She calmed down remarkably fast, so fast that I wondered if her hysteria hadn’t been a ploy to get my attention.

She sat on the edge of a concrete planter, and I sat beside her while she told me her sad story. To wit: her “boyfriend” neglected to tell her that he has AIDS, but she loves him anyway although he lost all interest in her after they had sex. Her “partner” doesn’t know about the affair, and she doesn’t plan to tell him because he would beat her up.

“Lady, you are just too stupid for words,” I thought. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to leave, at least not yet. I had decided to help, and, by god, I was going to do it—for five more minutes anyway.

She said she had walked for miles hoping to work the virus out of her system before it put down roots. She asked if drinking a lot of water might wash it out. I said I doubted it, and I then made an unforgivably practical suggestion about going to White Bird Clinic to be tested, and I tried to console her with the thought that she might not have AIDS anyway, but even if she does, people nowadays live for years with the virus.

When I finally got up to go, she thanked me sarcastically “for making fun of a serious situation.” I hadn’t done this, so I figured she was just trying to provoke me into staying, but I honestly didn’t care. The fact is that I never cared. I had done my duty as I saw it, but my heart was at home eating peanut butter on homemade Parmesan crackers.

Maybe you would have cared. Maybe you would have listened without passing judgment, but I can’t imagine how. I really can’t. The only way I can feel warm and fuzzy toward my fellow human beings is to not be around them very much. Still, if you would have cared, I hope it’s you who stops to help on the day that it’s me standing in front of the library screaming at invisible people. Not that I am given to such theatrics. No, not me. I realized when I was a little boy with a screaming sister that screamers get all the attention but none of the respect, and I came to hate them on both counts.

72 comments:

Marion said...

Ah, Snow, I don't know whether to slap you or kiss you. LOL! I've been a crazy screamer (mainly in the shower, alone, never at the library---) and a rainbow poet dreamer and I don't know which is better.

I can totally understand your impatience with the woman. I think the BIG thing you did was show concern---you stopped, listened and you gave her some excellent advice. I'll go with the kiss. Blessings!!!

pink dogwood said...

well, at least you stopped and trying making her feel better - I would have probably ignored and felt bad about it, but ignored none the less. and I am not a screamer (except for when I was in labor, twice - but I think it was acceptable then :))

I am not sure how I would react to strangers screaming - but if it is you and I know it is you (I only know your writing so far :)) - then I will stop by and try to get you to stop screaming at invisible people :)

Ananji said...

I have to agree (on all counts) with Marion.

You did your duty as a human, and gave her some practical advice. Even us diehard humanitarians have a limit to patience when it comes to dealing with seemingly rash, ridiculous or manipulative people. But by the same token, even the rash, ridiculous and manipulative can evolve to greater heights of humanity if grace and good will hit them over the head enough times.

Who knows, you may have been a catalyst without even knowing it.

And if the screaming woman ever sees you crash your bike, you can probably count on her stopping to help. There's something, anyhow.

Ananji

Snowbrush said...

Marion "I don't know whether to slap you or kiss you."

At this distance, either will do, although I would prefer the latter. I am at least glad that I didn't bore you.

pink dogwood "I am not sure how I would react to strangers screaming"

You must not have encountered it. Eugene is a small city, but a city, and I live downtown where people who are obviously mentally ill are fairly common.

pink dogwood " I would have probably ignored and felt bad about it"

I never stop if I think the person might represent a physical danger, but I didn't feel that way about her.

pink dogwood "I am not a screamer (except for when I was in labor"

Well...Peggy is a labor and delivery nurse, and she sometimes comes home with her ears ringing. She reports that women from some cultures scream more than others. For example, black women are WAY loud whereas Japanese women hardly make a squeak. This implies that screaming during labor is culturally produced rather than a physical necessity.

pink dogwood "I will stop by and try to get you to stop screaming at invisible people"

And visible ones too, please, as they would seem to pose more of a risk!

Ananji "even the rash, ridiculous and manipulative can evolve to greater heights of humanity"

One would hope, although this is a statement of faith rather than verifiable fact.

Ananji "And if the screaming woman ever sees you crash your bike, you can probably count on her stopping to help."

You think more highly of people than I do. I had surgery in March, and Peggy was gone for two weeks in April. I really needed help, and really thought I could count on certain people to be there for me just as I had been there for them. It was a misplaced trust. I did get help, but not from the people whom might have reasonably been expected to help.

Betty said...

I probably wouldn't have stopped. It never ends well when I do a good deed.

Bella said...

I would've walked right on by.

serene chaos said...

Snowbrush, I think you don't give yourself enough credit. Of the hundreds of people that walked past, I suspect only a hand full would've hesitated or stopped. Of these, very few (if any) would take the time to have an actual conversation with her.

Too many of us would merely ignore her. The fact that you noticed her, despite your opinion of her, shows a lot about who you are. I believe it's when we do something we don't really want to but that we know needs to be done, that we grow as a person.

Chrisy said...

I think you did a great thing...to stop and listen and give some good advice...who knows if the story was even true...it doesn't matter...I think you'd be a pretty good judge of character Snow...and am pleased to got to head on home where your heart is.

Pantheist Mom said...

It is so much easier to help people who are trying to help themselves and simply can't make it work. Not only do you get the internal warm fuzzies for being a good human, but it's possible that you actually made a positive difference.

In your case, I doubt your screaming woman even really wanted help. She seemingly wasn't trying to help herself - she was simply angry. It's so much harder to be a "good human" in those cases. The warm fuzzies aren't so warm and are rather prickly. Lending a helping hand is really quite often a very selfish thing to do. It makes us feel all virtuous. In your case today, I think the way you reacted was exceedingly generous. You obviously weren't doing it for your personal edification. You were there in case there was something you could do. Period.

I hope you got to enjoy your peanut butter and Parmesan crackers. And I hope you're doing well...

pink dogwood said...

This implies that screaming during labor is culturally produced rather than a physical necessity.


Might be true - my mom said that she never did in India - but man did it hurt - I screamed my lungs out :)

Ananji said...

Snow, I remember reading in another post of yours about your being disillusioned by the lack of help that came from so-called friends. I have experienced that a number of times and know how very disheartening it is. I have this to say about that (but it'll take me a minute or so to get to my point, so please bear with me):

Our situations, mine and yours - they are different, but the same. My "normal" is extraordinarily chaotic in the eyes of other people. My son (now 19) is seriously ill - mentally and physically - thus at any given time there's some crisis on the horizon, in the works, or having just been resolved. (He's in the midst of a rejection episode as we speak...into the hospital on Monday.) I have no family here. I am a single parent. I have no neighbors.

But I'm outgoing, I have friends, I'm involved in numerous volunteer and humanitarian things. I AM OUT THERE making a difference. But where are my closest friends beyond the token hospital visit and get well card or a single call of concern and those nice little promises for prayers -- all those small gestures are well intended, but do not keep the litter box clean or wash my other son's clothes while I'm busy dealing with "important" things.

Do I sound bitter? I hope not, because here's my point.

People who haven't suffered as you have suffered simply don't get it. I think some people really just CAN'T get it. I've tried to explain to friends who are intelligent, feeling, caring, compassionate...

The extraordinary souls who come through with meaningful moral support are the people like us who know about suffering, who understand hospital stays, who understand the panic and depression that goes with that.

That's what I meant about grace and good will. You give it where you can so that you'll get some of it back. I know that sounds naive, but it has been my experience again and again. They get it. Others don't.

Mind you, all this rationalizing doesn't change what happened back in April with you, or how I felt in an April five years ago in a similar situation. Being disappointed by people you thought you could count on sucks. It sucks and there's no getting around it.

Great. Now I'm depressed!
:-)

Ananji

All Consuming said...

'The fact is that I never cared. I had done my duty as I saw it, but my heart was at home eating peanut butter on homemade Parmesan crackers.' - How much do I admire your honesty..... an awful lot I guess, and this is why I know I am not ever dealing with a bullshitter.

*smiles

Nancy said...

I think you gave yourself away when you stopped and listened. :-)

kj said...

snowbrush, i have to admit that i am drawn in far more by your writing than by the facts. you are a wonderful writer, plain and simple. you should publish--at least a clapbook--get a weekly newspaper column etc.

now for the other part. i probably would have stopped, probably given 5-10 minutes. maybe i might have just listened and not said much.

as far as i'm concerned, this encounter is just a prelude for your declaration that you only feel good about people when you're not around them very much. i don't like the sound of that, soulbrush.

disappointment can become its own medicine. i say bypass the seaweed and go straight for the starfish.

xo
kj

kj said...

you know i meant to say,'snowbrush'. i know your name full well. somehow my fingers screw up.

please forgive me.
xo
kj

patsy said...

go get on down the street. what good did you do? what good could anyone do?
When she ask if dringing a lot of water would help should have been a clue.
maybe she was searching for a new boy friend.

Michelle said...

Apparently, screaming during labour is counterproductive, and actually prolongs the agony.....god has a strange sense of humour I guess :)

Seems your good deed was also counter productive.....ah well Snow, some days just suck like that.

xxx

CreekHiker said...

Your story is entertaining and forgive my brutal honesty.
I would have passed that woman by...but, do you share the recipe for homemade Parmesan crackers???

rhymeswithplague said...

I think kj meant a chapbook and not a clapbook. :)

You definitely acted like a Good Samaritan whereas I would most likely have acted like a priest or a Levite and walked right on past. This is painful to me and incriminating against me, but I'm being honest here.

Who knows whether the woman was mentally ill or merely uneducated about the subject of AIDS? You did a very good thing, Snow. I commend you. Especially in the light of the erstwhile friends who did nothing to help you in your time of need being such a recent memory. See, you actually lived out the Golden Rule in front of the library.

Snowbrush said...

This is an edited version of the response I JUST made--I go someone's name wrong.

Betty "It never ends well when I do a good deed."

How sad, Betty. Even I am not so pessimistic. Of course, what I do best with are practical problems. Just give me a flat to change, and I'm all confidence.

Bella "I would've walked right on by."

I'm surprised by how many people have said that.

Serene Chaos "I believe it's when we do something we don't really want to but that we know needs to be done, that we grow as a person."

Some have even suggested that it is only in doing the good deeds that we don't want to do that virtue exists. (Please read my comment below to Pantheist Mom.)

Chrisy "am pleased to got to head on home where your heart is."

And my stomach!

Pantheist Mom "You were there in case there was something you could do. Period."

I'm repeat my comment to Serene Chaos: "Some have even suggested that it is only in doing the good deeds that we don't want to do that virtue exists." If this were true, it would put us in the position of only being virtuous when we didn't want to do a good deed, meaning that the MORE we didn't want to do it, the more virtuous we would become. This line of thinking also ignores the fact that we perform better when we're doing something we want to do.

Ananji, thank you for your compassionate and encouraging response. "Token visit or call" was well put, as I'm sure you're right in that people do these quick and easy things and then feel that they have performed a significant kindness. And if all I had done was to have had a tooth extracted, they would be right. Indeed, most people don't know what suffering is because they haven't been there.

And if this is true of my friends who are in their 50s and 60s, how much more true would it be of the friends of people in their 20s? Through my own suffering, I have come to feel much more compassion for younger sufferers. I can at least be glad for all the good years I did have.

Of course, there are those who would say that I still have no idea of what REAL suffering is, and I would have to admit that they are right in one way. Yet, suffering is not a place but a point along a seemingly endless scale.


More to come--obviously.

Diana said...

Hi Snowbrush,
I found this hysterically funny! You did more than I would have done! First of all, I grew up in Chicago so I wouldn't have even dreampt of approching her unless she was holding a small bleeding child!
Secondly I thought that the peanut butter and crackers sounded like a wiser option!
Good for you, you did your humanitarian act for the week!

Becky said...

I may have stopped... thinking she was part of a candid camera stunt! ... and then made a hasty retreat when I found out otherwise! I commend you for stopping.
Love & Light~
OM girl

Strayer said...

That was a really funny story, Snow. Reminds me of a recent encounter at a local trailer park, full of drugs, drunks and drama (and unfixed cats). Later on, it's hysterical. Like your story.

Natalie said...

Snow ~ firstly, if I ever find you screaming in front of any building, I will bring you home and feed you Parmesan crackers.
Secondly ~ until recently, I would have also stopped. I have had a change of conciousness about good deeds. If your heart is not in it, i.e.home with the crackers, then your intention to help, is coming from duty, rather than from a genuine willingness to act. Apparently, God only sees intention, not the actual deed, so it was probably futile.

There are VERY FEW people in this world, that help others without an ulterior motive. Most people naively want to help, but are disappointed when the situation doesn't turn out how they envisioned it would be. A lot of the people I have come across, have helped others because there was something in it for them, not out of humanity.
Whether that be a favour returned, or recognition, attention, or the syndrome of being a rescuer, and needing to be needed, etc.......

If you don't really want to do it, then don't do it.Come from the heart, and live your truth, whatever that happens to be, in the moment.
If our actions don't match our thoughts, then unhappiness and resentment prevail.xx♥

Snowbrush said...

ALL CONSUMING "How much do I admire your honesty..... an awful lot I guess"

I lie well enough (which is very well, actually) when I have motive enough to lie, but then I feel that I let myself down.

NANCY "I think you gave yourself away when you stopped and listened. :-)"

This was a post that I thought might incur disapproval, so I am surprised by the positive response.

KJ " i am drawn in far more by your writing than by the facts"

You are right--I should publish. You could write the first review. "The author doesn't say much in the 573 page tome, but he doesn't say it so well that his book is worth reading for style alone." I would love such a review.

KJ "disappointment can become its own medicine. i say bypass the seaweed and go straight for the starfish."

I must risk sounding dense here, for I don't know what you mean, at least in regard to this particular post.

KJ "i know your name full well. somehow my fingers screw up. please forgive me."

I wish I could, but you have gone too far this time, KJ. I am reminded of one of Mary Magdalene's numbers from "Jesus Christ Superstar." "I've had so many brushes before, in so many ways; he's just one more."

PATSY "go get on down the street. what good did you do?"

Would you say, then, that you are an ethical pragmatist? I lean more toward trying to follow the example of the ancient Stoics who taught that good lies in doing the right thing simply because IT IS the right thing. The result of our actions can seldom if ever be known in advance.

MICHELLE "Seems your good deed was also counter productive"

Please see my response to Patsy (that immediately precedes my response to you). I actually don't know if the outcome was counter-productive. I only know that I wasn't in a good space to be helpful, but then there was no one else around.

CREEKHIKER "do you share the recipe for homemade Parmesan crackers???"

I make many kinds of crackers, and the dough in this one is not the easiest to work with, but if you're used to rolling things out...How about I give you the basics for this recipe, and then make an entire post about baking crackers? 7/8 cup canola oil. 4 cups of whatever kind(s) of flour suits you (you might want to add some flax seeds). 3 cups grated Parmesan. 7/8 cup warm water (appx) 1 1/4 tsp cayenne. Alter the ingredients however you wish. If your dough is too dry, add a little more water. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Flour your rolling board. Roll out to 1/8 inch or so and cut into squares or rounds. Prick lots of time with a fork to eliminate bubbles during baking. Bake at whatever temp you like (I like 325). Turn once or twice, and take individual ones out as they start to brown. It is very easy to burn crackers, so don't let them get very brown. They will harden as they cool. Let me know if any of this is unclear or if I missed anything.

RHYMES "I think kj meant a chapbook and not a clapbook. :)"

The reference to AIDS probably caused her mind to get stuck on sexually transmitted diseases--her alter ego IS a rabbit, you know.

RYHMES "You definitely acted like a Good Samaritan whereas I would most likely have...walked right on past."

You know, I think KJ was actually the only other person who said she would have stopped. She is also, so far as I know, the only person who is a professional counselor.

DIANA "I found this hysterically funny!"

Thank you. I often write with a mixture of humor and pathos, but not everyone sees it, possibly because most people tend to only feel one emotion at a time--at least, that's my theory.

DIANA "I grew up in Chicago so I wouldn't have even dreampt of approching her..."

Well, you know, when every third person is screaming and talking to invisible people, you can't very well stop for them all--ha.

Becky "I may have stopped... thinking she was part of a candid camera stunt!"

You remember Candid Camera?! I just LOVED that show. No one since has come nearing doing what Alan Funt did so well and so naturally. Boy, I hated it when he died.

Mim said...

between reading your post and all the interesting comments - I've forgotten what I was going to say - but in general..I may not have stopped so you are a step up on my humanitarianism.

Lisa said...

Hey there, Snowbrush. Being a freaker outer myself, I can see how she was trying to keep the virus fron "taking root", she might have been in a panic, maybe she was just plain crazy and I say that with respect because I am as well, but you tried, and ultimately there was nothing to do. But I could see her logic about the virus. Maybe she was just making it all up, thinking it was real. Who knows.

Compassion is really what we owe one another as human beings.

Pouty Lips said...

I don't care one bit. If I am in a particular place at a particular time and someone needs something specific from me and I can help, I do it. I don't even try to carry the world's problems on my shoulders. But if you are standing in front of the library screaming and you specifically ask me to listen to you blabber for 5-10 minutes, I promise I will do it.

Kate said...

You hate your sister?

Snowbrush said...

Natalie "If you don't really want to do it, then don't do it. Come from the heart, and live your truth, whatever that happens to be, in the moment."

Help me out here, Natalie. Are you advising me to abandon overarching standards and simply follow my emotions? You so often complain about people in your family being unwilling to commit, or take responsibility, or follow through with promises; in other words, you complain about them doing whatever suits them in the moment, yet you seem to be advocating that very thing.

Mim " I've forgotten what I was going to say"

I'm so sorry, Mim!

Lisa "Compassion is really what we owe one another as human beings."

My first thought was yes. Then, I remembered that justice also has its place. How do you reconcile the two?

Pouty Lips "If I am in a particular place at a particular time and someone needs something specific from me and I can help, I do it."

I would just offer that people who are hurt, angry, and confused probably don't know what they want. I have often found myself in a double-bind or else wanting things that were mutually exclusive. On such occasions, it helps me to achieve clarity if someone will simply listen and care.

Kate "You hate your sister?"

Worse than that, I pity her.

Renee said...

Oh how I love what you write, and it almost never matters what it is about.

I would have stopped, but once she started talking and being so ridiculous I would have stopped listening.

I like to help people who want to help themselves.

You are brilliant and I really loved this writing.

Love Renee xoxo

Winifred said...

You did care. You didn't just walk on by did you, you tried. Sometimes you can't help people, especially those with mental health problems.

Before I learned to drive I always used to get accosted by people on buses. Once a woman had me a nervous wreck telling me her sob story, I got off and left my handbag on the bus. I've only been on the Tube a few times but every time...... Afterwards, sometimes you just have to laugh or you'd cry.

We can't mend some things.

soulbrush said...

whew, don't know what to say...i suppose just glad it wasn't me....

Reuben said...

"The only way I can feel warm and fuzzy toward my fellow human beings is to not be around them very much."

Amen. I see a lot of people here reassuring you of your better self and applauding your unconscious benevolent motives, but don't let 'em get to you.

You remind me of Clint Eastwood in Gran Tornio, but less racist.

geek said...

I agree with what Winifred said.

Most people would just ignore someone like her. A bit of your time and a listening ear were already enough. And you couldn't have done more, anyway.

Sometimes all we can do is just listen, and we can't really do anything beyond that. I even get stuck with the same dilemma with my closest friends 'cause I usually get confused. So my friends have labeled me, "a passive listener".

And I think you did care in your own way.

nollyposh said...

...and for 5 mins you were an ~Angel~ (albeit reluctantly!) so good on you, maybe next time you will put your heart a little more into it? ...i say this not to be rude but because you are a direct reflection of me at the moment (funny that!) as i currently have my garage 1/2 full of a neighbour's megre belongings, because she was thrown out by her landlord and there was no-one else to help her... i helped because i thought "There but for the Grace of God go i" and ever since i have been nervously exploring in my mind what i should do should she suddenly appear again and this time with no-where to live! ...Ahhh these are the tests of life... no? X;-)

robert said...

Good morning Snow, in Germany we say, that 'one who wants to help, doesn't help.'

kj said...

hello snowbrush, my pristine reputation that i work so hard to maintain is tanking.

first, i have no credibility about getting your name right. now i am nervous about future missteps.

then, who typed 'clapbook' instead of chapbook? me? was i multitasking when i left my comment? or maybe my recent sex survey has had a sublime influence on how i see the world....

and then there's the fact that i am one among very few who would stop for that woman. these counselor-types don't know when to slip into citizen gear. but actually....i am very surprised at the number of people who would walk on by. i hope that would NOT be the case if a person was hurt or in need of some obvious help. and if a person were softly sobbing on a park bench--bereft and brokehearted, but appropriately so--would i still be alone in (probably) making eye contact or asking if help was needed? i think we ignore eachother too much as it is.

all this said, i continue to be glad to make your acquaintance and your comments on my blog spice things up, which is welcomed-ly all good.

:)

Snowbrush said...

Renee "I would have stopped"

Et tu, Renee? That makes three out no telling how many--I'll be making a tally soon.

Winifred, I'm so sorry, both about your distress that day (and other days too) and your handbag. I can but hope you found it.

Soulbrush "i suppose just glad it wasn't me...."

Screaming or stopping or either?!

Geek "So my friends have labeled me, "a passive listener"."

That sounds like a complaint--assuming I understand the term correctly. An active listener would draw the person out, whereas a passive listener would just sit there. Peggy (my wife) is sometimes a passive listener, and I take it to mean that she's not interested in what I'm saying. Well, sometimes she's probably not. Other times, she is, but maybe I'm talking about something she doesn't feel that she knows enough about to converse on intelligently. Then too, Peggy is not much of a talker, generally speaking.

Nollyposh "..and for 5 mins you were an ~Angel~"

Well, jeez, I mean it's not like it was the first time, and that I couldn't keep doing it beyond 300 seconds!? Or I am being totally weird, paranoid, and hyper-sensitive? No, surely not. I'm just being a smart-ass because I like to mess with you.

I don't think I could store a lot of stuff like that unless I had a definite time before which it would be gone, and I fully believed I could count on it actually being gone when that time came. Ah, but then I'm not in your shoes. If I really, really felt for someone, then maybe...

Nollyposh "maybe next time you will put your heart a little more into it?"

Au contraire. If I am in a crappy mood and hungry to-boot when someone whom I consider flaky needs emotional support, my heart probably wouldn't be in it the next time either.

Robert, "in Germany we say, that 'one who wants to help, doesn't help.'"

Robert! Maybe something got lost in the translation, because, as I read this, if you want to help, you can't, but if you don't want to help, you won't; therefore if you need help in Germany, you're screwed. This makes Germany sound like a dreadful place.

KJ "my pristine reputation that i work so hard to maintain is tanking."

Well, KJ, I guess it had to happen sometimes, so now that everyone thinks so poorly of you that it couldn't get any worse, you might as well just be yourself. Actually, I am SO glad that you're not the avatar of all things virtuous, beautiful, and brilliant that I thought you were. Why am I glad? THAT is JUST the kind of question that YOU would ask. Oh, my god. Well, hell, I dunno. Do I HAVE to think about it right now? I'd rather get back to your obsession with the claps.

KJ " am very surprised at the number of people who would walk on by."

Me too. I thought I would look bad for not having my heart in it, but now I feel all better because most of my readers are heartless s.o.b.s who would walk away from puppies and children who were drowning in shallow pools of warm water on nice days when they (my readers) had nothing much to do.

Strawberry Girl said...

I really don't know what to make of this, I listen to people and try to be understanding. But really I wouldn't know what to do either.

SG

kj said...

two reactions:

1. sigh....
2. haha

well, make it 3:

3. it's not my fault you so royally elevated me for an oh so short time (who does that sound like, "it's not my fault"--the mantra of e. r.)

xo snowbrush

Natalie said...

Yes, you are right. I don't like it when my family do that to me, but they have to be them, and I have to be me, and you have to be you. Not who others tell you to be,or what the Bible, or modern convention, tell you to be, but who you REALLY are. That is what I was trying to say.

geek said...

I dunno. I've taken "passive-listener" not really as a complaint. 'Cause my friends say they like it that way. They feel better talking to me. They say they feel better that someone is listening to their thoughts for once.

Well the thing is, I sometimes have a hard time interacting. And I don't feel comfortable or trying to pretend that I do understand when I really don't. So I think the best way I can do is listen and try as much as I can to comprehend.

Daniel said...

as you said so adroittly on rhymesee wit, it is all a feminist plaot...they have been plotting forever and even the male gods are involved being led around by the nose i wish i had a solution but i am being manipulated by my wife and live a home 29 year old daughter and the one other 45 year old daughter who lives in north carolina. and i honestly think we males are all sunk, and the y chromosome will bite the dust

rhymeswithplague said...

Let me just point out that *I* am the one who noticed kj wrote "clapbook" instead of "chapbook"...and I do not think poorly of either one of you. So let's hear it! Three cheers for rhymeswithplague!!!

(If one has to lead one's own cheers, one is pitiful indeed....)

Sonia ;) said...

((((((((((((((SNOW))))))))))))))

I care for you very much, Thank you for the kick in the ass...And I would have felt the ame way that you did with the screaming lady.. Not be ignorant as her gave a lil advice and left. You cant cure someone who isnt going to seek info and think about the situation, or move forward into it.

xoxoxoxoxxo Sonia ;)

Snowbrush said...

Strawberry Girl "But really I wouldn't know what to do either."

I don't often manage to keep my mouth shut, but I know in theory that simply listening and trying to draw out the sufferer is the often best thing, and often the only thing.

KJ " it's not my fault you so royally elevated me for an oh so short time"

Oh, my modest one who so recently wrote, "my pristine reputation that i work so hard to maintain," what am I to say to thee?

1) I took what you wrote in the above quote as humor rather than fact.

2) I believe that you act out of honor rather than a need for impression management.

2) If I demi-goddessed you at my age, then it's my problem.

KJ "I am one among very few who would stop for that woman. these counselor-types don't know when to slip into citizen gear."

Are we fishing for something here? Surely, if you were counseling someone who said this, you would point out the possibility that she just MIGHT have become a counselor BECAUSE she cared about other people and trusted her ability to help them, and that, as a counselor, she just MIGHT be
accustomed to, and therefore less freaked-out by, bizarre behavior.

Natalie, thanks for the clarification. I paraphrased the sentiment you expressed as accurately as I could, but I strongly suspected that you didn't actually mean it in the way I understood it. Either that, or you were speaking from the emotion of the moment. Now, I'm just glad you're speaking to me at all. To tell you the truth, I never actually thought you would read my response as you have so damn many blogs that you try to keep up with.

Geek, I better get you now. Yes, your friends meant to compliment you. They're probably accustomed to being interrupted when they're trying to speak, and you actually pay attention.

Daniel, sounds like a suicide pact is in order. The women are going to win anyway, so why fight them. They're just too damn clever and cunning for us Y-chromosome relicts.

Rhymes "I* am the one who noticed kj wrote "clapbook" instead of "chapbook".

Yes, you were the only one who noticed--or at least you were the only one who pointed it out. In any event, your reputation as a careful reader is now established.

Sonia, I am so glad to hear from you!

KC said...

Obviously, from all the comments this was a thought provoking blog. I commend you for trying. I don't know what I would have done given the same situation. I live in "happy valley' where the only thing I encounter is lost dogs and I always help them if they will let me.
Thanks for the comment on my blog about the conversation about your schnauzer. It made me laugh that you made the woman think you were serious. What a great sense of humor.

Chrisy said...

Hey Snow...just had to come by and thank you for your wellness wishes...kindness and caring are such wonderful attributes and I thank you for sharing yours with me...and I loved the 'damn damn damn' bit...the words portrayed exactly how I was feelin at that time!

Gaston Studio said...

Thanks for the laugh Snow, I definitely needed it this morning and could almost taste the peanut butter on homemade Parmesan crackers! (Did you make them BTW, or did Peggy or a thoughtful neighbor?)

If it had been me seeing and hearing that woman in front of the library, I would have stopped to find out if she was hurt and, if so, would have called paramedics immediately.

However, once she told me the same story she told you, I don't think I would have spent another minute with her except to advise her to look in the yellow pages for a clinic. And I wouldn't have felt guilty one tiny bit by walking off, thinking about those homemade Parmesan crackers with peanut butter. No sir.

Jane

Snowbrush said...

KC " I live in "happy valley' where the only thing I encounter is lost dogs and I always help them if they will let me."

Ah, yes, I've heard of the place. Lost dogs are the only problem, and they always find their way back to their loving homes unscathed. I'll start packing as soon as I get up from here.

You are welcome, Chrisy.

OF COURSE I made them, Jane?! Well, I guess I didn't need to put it like THAT. Here's how it is, I've baked for decades. First, yeast breads, then crackers, cornbreads, and biscuits. I rarely run out of biscuits and cornbreads, and never do I run out of crackers. I take these things seriously. When Peggy bakes, she bakes pies or cookies, and I always help with the pies and often with the cookies. I gave my Parmesan cracker recipe further up the page of responses.

Jane "once she told me the same story she told you, I don't think I would have spent another minute with her"

Walking away abruptly would have added to her despair, and I HAD stopped to help.

Cynthia said...

A first hand lesson in pithiness!
Thanks for dropping by my blogs.
and giving me a smile, mr don't care about people worth the powder to blow them to hell.

BTW "The General" is one of my favorite silents.

Barry said...

I'm not certain if I would have stopped or not, although I like to think I would have.

I wouldn't be too put off by the woman's initial sarcastic response at the end. Presuming any of her story was true, you've planted a seed of an idea that might yet bare fruit.

kj said...

it's me, your demi-godding new friend. just stopping by to say hello and commend you on one fine post.

:)

Gaston Studio said...

"Walking away abruptly would have added to her despair, and I HAD stopped to help."

I would have walked away because I think she may have been seeking attention as opposed to a solution to her personal problem. I stay with, for me, I would have walked away after advising her to find some professional help.

Cool that you bake, Snow! My experience has been that when a man bakes, he's usually a really GOOD baker!

Snowbrush said...

Cynthia "A first hand lesson in pithiness!"

Yes, Pitiless is my first name, which is why I go by my last name, Snowbrush. Oh, wait, you said "pithiness." Thank you.

Barry "you've planted a seed of an idea that might yet bare fruit."

I hope that it will be so. Thank you, Barry.

KJ "it's me, your demi-godding new friend.'

Hail, KJ. All fall prostate at her name--either that or prostrate; I can't keep them straight.

Jane "I would have walked away because I think she may have been seeking attention as opposed to a solution"

My dear, friend, I am not sure that, even if you are right, that denying her the attention she so desperately craved would have been the better course. I (and, I suspect, you) have often craved attention, because attention implied caring; therefore to have walked away would have implied a lack of caring. I did so little as it was. I spent fifteen minutes, if that, listening to a terribly unhappy person and giving her such comfort as I could in my un-compassionate frame of mind. In retrospect, it seems like so little. I can but hope that what I managed so reluctantly to give was better than nothing.

I came across a quotation today by Mother Teresa. It goes, in essence at least.

"The most important thing is kindness.
The second most important thing is kindness.
The third most important is kindness."

In trying unsuccessfully just now to look up the exact quotation, I came across an interesting site that has nothing but quotations about kindness by various people:

http://focusonkindness.com/3.html

swan said...

I commend you for being your authentic self... I think it takes a brave person to live in this way un-ashamed. And your writing is good solid writing, you have a good stride to your work, a fine meter and execution.

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Wow...this was such an honest post...admire you for that. Not sure what I would have done in those circumstances...probably hurried to my car and called 911...the easy, chicken way out. :-) Sounds like she just wanted a lot of attention. You were a good person to try to help. I think she needs some fairly long and intensive help...maybe even some meds.
Susan

Mariana Soffer said...

What a crazy story, well I guess many people are crazy or have attacks.
The one thing that I do not like about them sometimes is that they thing they have the right to harm otheres given their condition

soulbrush said...

popping in to see how you are doing? hows the pain? hows the mind? hows your day? hope all going steadily and manageable, from one brush to another, with hugs.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Nope, I'm impressed you took the time that you did. There are lots of people I'd like to say I would help but most likely not this one, she sounds like the type who could milk anyone dry and still be lamenting her own losses in life.

BrooklynBeauty said...

You did your good deed.... I can't say that I would make something that personal a problem for a stranger to help me with. I agree completely panic attacks from what I know take a little bit to wear off. Did you finally get to your peanut butter and crackers?

Snowbrush said...

In this land that rarely sees temperatures above 90 (and usually much lower than that), it is over 100 today, and is supposed to remain that way for several days. Since I, like most people here, don't have air conditioning, I am crabby. I will try really hard to not take it out on you.

Swan "I commend you for being your authentic self..."

Thank you, Swan. I find it far easier to write authentically after an event than to live authentically through it. I honestly don't even know what it would look like to live authentically, or whether it would be a better way to live--at least all the time. I don't mean to be argumentative, but to express my confusion, confusion being my most authentic self much of the time.

Susan "not sure what I would have done in those circumstances...probably hurried to my car and called 911."

I think it likely that many of my readers either live in small towns, or in areas of greater propriety. Seeing such behavior in public is not uncommon here. There is even a clinic that sends people out to do curb-side counseling.

Mariana "the one thing that I do not like about them sometimes is that they thing they have the right to harm otheres given their condition"

Anger is a way to escape helplessness--or at least feelings of helplessness. Men turn to it more readily than women for some reason, especially if they are young. I think of this as being partially due to high levels of testosterone. The older I get, the more I think of testosterone as being poisonous in more than small doses.

Thanks for inquiring after my health, Soulbrush. I am back on narcotics (which is another reason I feel crabby). Every time I think I'll getting a foot-up on the pain, it comes roaring back.

Reasons "there are lots of people I'd like to say I would help but most likely not this one"

I didn't know what her story was until I stopped. Then, because I stopped, I felt obligated. I couldn't have brought myself to tell her that I was there to help, but only if she had a problem that I found acceptable.

Brooklyn Beauty "Did you finally get to your peanut butter and crackers?"

Yes, I did. You're from Brooklyn but now live in Florida, if I recall correctly. When Peggy and I left Mississippi, we seriously considered two possible places to relocate. One was Staten Island, and the other here in Oregon. I liked NYC. Whether I could really have lived there happily over the long term is questionable, but I liked it.

kj said...

hey, i want to add another two cents. it sounds like this woman is mentally ill. people can't always help themselves: sometimes it's not as easy as saying 'get over it'.

why not let compassion rule for at least a few minutes before impatience takes over?

xo snowbrush

Snowbrush said...

KJ "it sounds like this woman is mentally ill."

I see mental illness as a continuum rather than a place where you either are or you aren't. That said, I'm sure you're right.

KJ "why not let compassion rule for at least a few minutes before impatience takes over?"

I agree. I didn't do it very well on this occasion, although I made the effort to keep my feelings to myself. I've found that people sometimes feel good about an interaction with me despite the fact that I might think I let them down. Conversely, they might feel disappointed when I thought everything went well. I therefore try to not be too attached to results, but to simply do what I can in the moment.

kj said...

to not be attached to the result is a very wise approach, snowbrush . i could stand to learn it better...

xoxo

Lisa said...

Lisa "Compassion is really what we owe one another as human beings."

My first thought was yes. Then, I remembered that justice also has its place. How do you reconcile the two?

Hey Snowbrush, I can see in this situation compassion was needed and you extended that to her, which was more than a lot of people would have done. In this instance, I don't know where justice came into the picture. I mean, are you talking in general?

Lisa

Chapati said...

Hi Snowbrush, thanks for visiting my blog. You don't give yourself enough credit; as so many people have pointed out a lot of people would have walked on by. Well done for being there for her.

Snowbrush said...

KJ, thanks for stopping by.

Lisa: "I can see in this situation compassion was needed and you extended that to her, which was more than a lot of people would have done. In this instance, I don't know where justice came into the picture. I mean, are you talking in general?"

Yes. I had mistakenly thought you were talking in general, so that was how I responded.

Chapati, so great to have you visit.

VioletMind said...

This was quite an interesting story. I can identify with not "caring" for people that I'm not really attatched to. In that situation, I probably would have made the effort to some-what console the person as well, just because it's somewhat of the "moral" thing to do, but I wouldn't have REALLY have cared either. I can truly understand that. And I think most people would as well. It was a nice effort that you made, to delay your nice snack waiting back at home, lol.

Snowbrush said...

Violet, we agree again!

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