Why? Why do we even care? Why care about others? Who cares if they die? They are just strangers. Was probably an asshole that nobody liked. They were jerks. They were mean. They didn’t believe the things that I do. They are not one of us.
These are all things that I would say. These were “justifiers” that allowed me to be an asshole. It works because, whether I am speaking to myself or in an echo chamber, I will never be called out on it. The world goes on and so did I until a couple of weeks ago I would be face to face with something that has changed me all the way to my core. I watched a man die and I was completely helpless.
I work in retail and have for twenty plus years. Trust me when I tell you that the things a retail worker sees, will leave them quite jaded and cynical about the human race. It was a normal day and I was resetting shelves of paint. I had about one hour left of my shift and all was great. An older gentleman and his wife were shopping right behind me when I heard a loud moan. As I turned around, time slowed to a crawl and the man collapsed face first to the floor. I rushed over and knelt down and put my face near his, he was unresponsive. Then I heard it, his last breath. I will never forget it, I hear it now. I knew it was hopeless at this point. The last exhale leaving this man’s body as his wife stood there horrified and screaming.
I was able to turn him over with the help of a manager as we waited for the EMTs to arrive. What I saw will haunt me forever. His lifeless eyes staring at nothing. I see his face daily and I still cannot work in that area of the store without having a panic attack.
Gone in a second. That’s it, one minute you are shopping for paint and then the next you are dead. Lives changed just like that. This guy may have been a wonderful person or he may have been a jerk. None of that matters because my heart breaks the same. I couldn’t save him and his wife went home a widow that day.
Do I still hate people? Why yes, I do. I do believe that when given the opportunity to rise to the occasion, people still only continue to think of themselves. They will wander through life oblivious to the fact that it could all be over in a second. We are all in this together and the world could be a paradise if we would just take a second to be kind to one another. I know it sounds sappy but can you imagine what it would be like?
None of us are getting out of here alive, don’t be remembered as an asshole. We have enough of those already.