That lovely schedule of getting up at 730, working 9-5, coming home enjoying dinner, sitting down to read a book before bed; and heres where my contrary reality sets in. 10-6, yea thats PM to AM if my use of contrary didn’t give it away. My lovely work schedule leaves me doing all the right things, at the wrong times. Getting off of work, to the humdrum, exasperated drive home, is something i should be looking forward to, but dealing with the assholes in 405 traffic doesn’t make my morning something I’m left “hopping around in my boots” for. My uncouth work schedule ends the same way every morning; me sitting in my bed eating a small meal trying to find something on tv gripping enough to fall asleep to that doesn’t involve the quotes “you are the father” or “jerry!” usually used in the same episode. Im left skimming the movie channels usually finding something with some sustenance.
A few mornings ago I tripped upon the movie Patch Adams, starring the most beautifully hairy actor you’ll ever see, Mr Robbin Williams. Being one of my favorite films, ill give you my own Roger Ebert (may he rest in peace) review without giving anything away. The film involves Hunter (Patch) Adams, a entry level medical student who feels that patients should be treated as people, instead of room numbers. His struggles from other doctors giving him shit about his absurd methods of patient care are predominately what the film is about. Im normally left shedding a tear or two by around half way through. Yes i said it, i do have a heart, at least i know when that tear jerker part is coming up so i can abruptly make my way back to finding out if Darrel is the father or not. Needless to say, the movie leaves me with a great feeling about how being different is a beautiful thing. Alright, time to ruin the film.
The first thing drawing me to the film was a part where Patch is introduced to a group of cancer patients, all under the age of 10. Noticing the dull feeling in the room, patch scurries around to find a piece of medical equipment; a bright red, tennis ball shaped object, forgive me for not knowing its medical pronunciation or use. He grabs a scalpel, makes a 3 inch incision down one side, and begins to place it on his nose. Yep, he is now a clown with a white doctors coat on. With his clown nose and a smile, he makes his way around the room, joking with the kids, attaching bed pans to his feet, disposing the obtuse aura in the room with one of laughter and smiles. The movie centers on this idea of creating a joyous feeling in the people who normally inhabit a place that is filled with pain and sorrow. It even leads him to putting a lady of her 90’s in a swimming pool full of noodles, because her favorite thing in life was squishing her grandmothers spaghetti noodles, after she got done cooking them.
This film has taught me so many wonderful things. The quote pulled from my intro “Every small interaction with a person is a chance to positively impact both of your lives” describes something i try to practice in my own life. It is something that is so true, its scary. Im reminded of a few years back, to the wonderfully divine woman who worked the drive thru at Carls Jr. A group of friends and i would always meet up after work at the same parking lot, where we would chat and reminisce about the good times. Carls Jr being only a stones throw away, would be the spot we would get our midnight snack or drink from. Being Mr Nice guy, id always volunteer to run through the drive thru and grab everyones orders. Id pull into the drive thru, always be polite, respectful and address her as ma’am; blame the beautiful parents that raised me for this. Now frequenting the joint, we both came to recognize each others voice over the raspy loudspeaker. Id order and pull forward grab my food and bid her farewell, until that one night. It was summer, the line crowded with kids, getting their drunk tank full, or curbing their most recent attack of the munchies. I pulled up the the stale white neon sign full of burgers. I instantly knew it was her as soon as the speaker shouted “how can i help you?”. But that particular night there was something melancholy about the sound of her voice. I continued my usual schedule of respect, and began my drive to receive my goodies. Arriving at the window, her melancholy state was very apparent by the look in her face. Mr Nice guy kicked in and I inquired as to what was wrong. She began to fall apart. In her distress, she began to explain to me about the late night crowd and how they treated her. Rude kids, who disrespected her, like she was just a loudspeaker at the drive thru. Her voice changed tones as she began to tell me something I will never forget. “You are one of the only people who is polite, and who treats me with any sort of respect, thank you so much for always being so kind”. Remembering almost every detail of this story, makes me ponder as to why I can’t remember my response. I’m sure it was somewhere along the line of oh no problem, or something nonchalant in nature. But what I do remember, is it touched me enough to walk in to the store that night and give her a hug. At the time I knew I had touched someone, I knew I had made somebody smile. What was hard for me to understand was why. I was just doing what I was raised to do, following the cliche quote we’ve all heard about treating people the way you’d like to be treated. I was young and was doing what I was raised to do. I’m reminded of a quote from my dad ” it’s easy to be nice, you have to try to be an asshole”. Although I’ve had people argue its definition with me constantly, I truly feel it is indeed easier to be nice, and hard to be cruel. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people make it look damn easy to be cruel, but in the end what does it accomplish.
As I sit here and reminisce about the situation stated above, I contemplate about what it has taught me. Common sense would state that what i was doing was helping her, giving her faith in the fact that there are good people left in this world, but common sense was wrong. This beautiful woman, named Lachelle was helping me. I feel in this world, that to truly grasp something you have to be reminded why you do it. When my parents taught me to treat people a certain way, it was only just a set of rules that id follow because i trusted their words. But Lachelle made me truly understand, that being the one person who was different, who recognized somebody as a person instead of a object, was a truly beautiful thing. It was one of those ass kick moments i speak so much of. The ones that you need to remember and grow from. A interaction as minuscule as treating another person with respect and dignity can truly uplift them, along with uplifting yourself. Sharing this story with you is not my courageous attempt to send you out to change the world. It is my subtle reminder that every morning when you wake up, dress up. Because in the end you never know how many beautiful people can positively effect your life, when you put on a red clown nose.