As I headed towards the Archives metro station today, I passed an older man who approached me with no bag and a mismatched set of clothing. Sure enough, the question, "MIss, can you help me?" I steeled myself, seeing him coming my way, and let out a breath. "No, I'm sorry, I don't carry cash." This is what I say to everyone. Both because it's the truth: I rarely, if ever, carry cash anymore, and because I don't think cash is what most people need.
The man shouted after me. "Hey, you're a nice lady!" I turned around and he smiled and waved. "A really nice lady."
Huh. I'm often told, by the people in need that I help in the course of my work, that the hardest thing on the street is being ignored, treated as subhuman. Sometimes beggars are kicked or stepped on. And I admit that I dislike dodging a beggar who has positioned themselves in the path I am trying to walk, shaking their coffeecups. But an old mentor of mine once told a story about how he forced himself to, at the very least, acknowledge the humanity before him. It's messy. It's uncomfortable. But at least he woulod acknowledge that they are also humans... even though he also gave out no change.
So there we go. There was my uncomfortable, didn't change a thing about this world, out of the comfort zone interaction for the morning.
I've been good about my Lenten discipline of no Facebook. It helps that I logged out of every single device, so I'd have to be intentional about logging back on. So far, I've noticed that I tend to think about reaching for Facebook when I'm bored- sitting on the bus, waking up in the morning, during lunch at work.
I use it as a time filler... and it fills so much time, it crept into my working time, which turned it into a time waster. At this point, I'm still defaulting to looking to some other electronic means to fill empty time, though for some reason, it's easier to turn off these other sources. (Currently, my default is WaPo or the BBC, but my guilty lovehate affair with Buzzfeed continues. It's terrible writing and I hate the click bait, but it can have such amusing lists...)
Perhaps part of my problem with social media is that I have no choice but to see ALL THE FEEDS at once. At least with email, I can automatically sort things into categories that I only check when I am ready to. Seeing everything at once is a little like trying to shake hands with an octopus. ALL THE HANDS AT ONCE!
We've been having some winter weather here in DC. Now I know that Boston has it way worse than we do... but being that we are essentially a Southern city, we don't have the kind of winter stuff that Boston does. We shut down for an inch. The dire warnings of an incoming storm led us to plan to shut the office today if the school systems closed. I had already planned to go to a doctor's appointment, and then hole up in the library for a few hours to write. Then my doctor's appointment got cancelled and rescheduled... after I had already left home.
I was actually pretty grumpy about the rescheduling. I had planned carefully and "public transit pooled" with M, who told me a lot of details about his job and what he does. He can be a pretty quiet guy who takes a lot of time to process, so when he does start talking, I like to seize the moment. I learned a lot about his coworkers and the logistics of walking through the stacks and what could be carried in various locations. (Which actually has a lot of bearing on what he chooses to carry for lunch, and affects his work stress as he figures out who can carry what in which container through the various levels of the maze that is the DC archives.)
But it's still frustrating to me to have my careful plans disrupted. Now I've paid for public transit that I didn't need to. The library is not open yet, so I had to pick out a coffeeshop, instead. (Which wasn't in my plans, but at least I've found a local neighborhood shop that I like.) And the rescheduled appointment is so far in the afternoon that I'll probably end up going home after I work for a while, because I can't spend 5 hours in a coffee shop!
I think I need to employ my current mantra of "I did my part. Let it go."