Monday, March 24, 2014


A slightly cynical person can easily see that there is an ulterior motive for everything, a secret self-serving reason for all our actions. I can very easily be that slightly cynical person, and yet I can also be quite the innocent, thinking that people are random and mercurial and sweet and full of heart. Sometimes a single event can flip me from one mode to the other. "Why is that young man taking that old ladies bag? Hey! HEY! what's... ah, he's helping her. I see. Wow, gosh, he sure is nice. And what lovely manners and facial tattoos." Or the other way "Wow, that sure is nice and thoughtful of my co-worker to take care of that before I replace her there! Oh, no, NO! She's just dumping it there. Ahhhhhh! She's just dumping it there to make it look like it wasn't her fault!"

But like many things there's a mostly complicated middle ground in play. Yesterday I was in the backroom with one of my colleagues. Someone from the front desk came back and asked if one of us could meet a patron at the back loading dock to help them in with multiple bags and boxes of donations. It was a volunteer situation with the caveat that one of us really had to do it. It's an infrequent sort of task, and though I'm not keen on it, I figured I was going to have to take care of it. To my surprise though my co-worker volunteered. I was particularly surprised because this was not one of my most giving, respected co-workers. Still, he has his qualities (though I generally find myself in the minority of those who will speak to them), and I was delighted to enjoy my release from this responsibility. I returned to the tasks at which I was engaged.

About ten or fifteen minutes later I had cause to wonder where my co-worker had gone, I think he was soon to replace me on the machine. I looked out the window. Whatever patron there was dropping off books was gone. My co-worker was smoking a cigarette and walking across the parking lot, apparently to his car. All the light bulbs in my head filled with electricity, and I could see. But here's the thing. It didn't matter. Sure, my co-worker likes helping with donations on the loading dock because it means a long cigarette break and the opportunity to hang out in the parking lot he so loves. But if someone needed help repairing the towel dispenser over by my espresso machine I could easily have had a similar response. All I know is that I didn't have to unload the patron's books and so am grateful for my colleague's efforts. There need be no cynical criticism, there need be nothing more than that simple truth.

The fact that he was five minutes late to relieve me on the machine is another, unrelated issue entirely. That's just how he rolls.

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