I had gone to the Indian Market to buy Naan when I saw a man who was bent over from the waist, a huge hump on his back, enter the store.
Through the open door I could see that he had arrived on a bicycle.
“How does he manage to do that?” I’d thought.
His condition looked enormously painful to endure and I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be for him to have to hold his neck curved up and out just to see while he was riding. He gave me a cheery good morning and a big smile as he walked by me, clearly quite comfortable with himself and confident about buying his groceries.
I stood in line, my back and leg aching, wondering how I was going to carry my own groceries out to the car.
In my mind I examined my own attitude toward my pain and the attitude of the man with the hump toward his.
“If he has pain, you sure wouldn’t know.”
I, on the other hand – make sure everybody knows. At least that’s how it seemed to me. I stepped carefully. I limped. I didn’t go up or down a step without holding on and there were times — lots of times — when I was crabby. Very crabby.
On top of it, I would criticize myself for all of that. Not exactly a helpful cocktail for overcoming pain in the first place.
The owner of the grocery store knows that I can’t carry anything more than 5 pounds and she offered to bring my box of groceries out to the car for me.
I went out ahead of her to clear a spot on the back seat and when I turned around to more or less say, “How about putting them on the seat,” I saw standing there holding my box of groceries not the owner of the grocery store, but the man with the hump.
He had that same bright smile on his face.
“Here you go ma’am,” he said. “Have a good day.”
I’ve never forgotten that man and his attitude, his infectious grin, and what I perceived to be his perseverance in the face of a chronic disability. I wondered if he had gained all of that positive perspective from sheer force of will — something I definitely lacked — when something inside me said,
“No. He didn’t get his attitude from force of will. He got his attitude from carrying other people’s groceries out to their car for them.
He got it not from expecting others to show kindness to him – but from him showing kindness to others.”
Author Bio: Carmelene Melanie Siani
Carmelene writes stories from every day life and how life itself offers lessons to help us grow, expand, and put our feet on higher ground.