Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Judge not...

I was waiting in the after school pick-up line the other day. You know, the line of cars that is always a mile long - no matter how early you come. I happened to be near the front of the line (a rarity, let me tell you) and noticed a woman pull her mini-van up and park it in the handicapped space. She got out, grabbed her Louis Vuitton bag and sashayed herself into the school - her sparkly mules clicking as she walked. At first I made nothing of it, but then I started to look at her van. There was no handicapped sticker hanging from the rear view mirror. There were no handicapped plates. Clearly, at the elementary school, she was not here to pick up her elderly father. She had parked herself right next to the front door and popped in to pick up her child. Because waiting in line like the rest of us is, well, beneath her.

As I sat there thinking about this, I started to get annoyed. There are a lot of people here in So Cal that seem to have the attitude that they are busier and more important than everyone else. You know who I'm talking about - the ones that honk at you for not going 90 on the freeway or roll their eyes and take deep breaths when you're in front of them with your children at the checkout line in the grocery store. I judged this woman to be just that type. I mean, who did she think she was? We're all out here waiting in line for our kids- taking our turn. It just seemed so rude to me. The more I thought about it, the more bugged I got. I even half considered calling the school and letting them know that someone was blocking the handicapped space illegally.

I didn't do that.

And thank goodness.

For a few minutes later, she came back out of the school, and in her hand she held her son's backpack - the stylish handbag no longer her only accessory. And her son was walking right next to her - cheerfully giving an account of his day. He had a mop of dark hair and freckles splashed across his nose.

He could have been just like my kids.

Only there was no missing it. His knees were bent the wrong way on tiny, crippled legs. His arms were supported by two canes that he used to hold himself up and maneuver slowly to that front-row handicapped parking spot.

And here I sat, self-righteously judging a situation that I knew nothing about. How many times do I do this in my life? How many times do I see only what I want to see and miss the bigger picture? How many times do I fail to give the benefit of the doubt to strangers I meet on the street? Is this who I have become?

This whole experience has made me want to change that. The bottom line is that YOU NEVER KNOW. Never judge anyone unless you've walked a mile in their shoes, so the saying goes.

I'm so humbled. I'll be working on this one.

10 comments:

Holly said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I can understand you wondering about her since you didn't see any sign, and people do unfortunately take advantage of those spaces. Not making rash judgments is so hard, something I have to work on too!

Amanda said...

I think that this is a good reminder for most of us. It is so easy to judge other people. It seems like as I get older, I tend to do this a little more...unfortunately. We all need to try to be a little more understanding. Thanks!

June Cutoff Cash said...

Ugh. I have been guilty of that too, especially here in LA with the entitled people. Thank you for your honesty.

Kelly said...

wow... that was humbling just reading about it. living in the oc, i find myself judging everyone, everywhere, and i know i shouldn't. this was a great wake up call. thanks.

Marty: said...

I remember being in the children's recovery room at the hospital after someone had their tonsils out. My kid was obviously very sick, drooling, and gurgling when she spoke. There was a wild child in the room, about 3, and too cute for words. However he was running around like he owned the place, taking toys from other kids and knocking my own darling down. His mother seemed pretty oblivious. In the spirit of making her notice his obnoxious behavior I asked what he was in the hospital for. His third round of chemo. He had leukemia.

Scribbit said...

Oops. Gulp.

I've done similar stuff. Not that that makes it okay, but I totally sympathize--I tend to jump to conclusions sometimes. Especially when there are people who do just what you thought she was doing.

Annie said...

I've been there, too...like when I'm seething inside about the rotten driver in front of me and when I finally pull around and glance daggers in their direction it's a sweet old couple who look like my grandparents. Gulp.

mama jo said...

i thought that same sort of thought just yesterday...the lady at nordstroms that was checking me out told me that her son had had this terrible surgery a couple of years ago, then was in a car accident that ruined what the surgery had done...you just never know where people are coming from and their stories...we can all be less judmental.

Anonymous said...

When you had meningitis at 10 1/2 months, there was a darling little boy riding his tricycle in the hall at Primary children's hospital. He was not slowed down from any wind resistance to his hair - there was none. He told his sad mother he was so happy he had a bad brain tumor so he didn't have to have needles in his head like that little baby. That was his judgement call. It was a great lesson to us all. His mom would have traded places...
love Mom

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