I’ve been feeling disillusioned lately. You see, I’m one of those annoying people who always looks on the bright side of things, and counts my blessings, and always tries to see the good in other people (even when people make it pretty damn hard to see). I am optimistic and hopeful, and I love these qualities about myself.
However, I’ve been feeling like disappearing off the grid these days. I feel myself becoming angry, and losing patience easily. I hear myself saying things to other drivers (“Turn, already!”, “Oh my God, at least go the speed limit!”, “Freakin’ tourists!”), even though I know they can’t hear me. I feel myself frowning as I scroll down my Facebook page, with post after post of Trump, Hillary, the Kardshians, Kanye, and the like. Ugh.
I’m still unable to find full-time or even part-time work, and unemployment insurance is about to run out. I constantly feel the pressure of that ticking clock. Being laid off three times in four years is, by far, the most frustrating thing that has ever happened to me. I have been turned down for jobs for which I am perfectly qualified. On the occasions when I do ask why, I get the canned answer, “We found someone who better matched the job description.”
I’ve been at this long enough to know that that probably means they didn’t want me because A) I lack a degree (even though I’ve spent well over a decade doing what I do, and doing it well), or B) they found someone who’d be willing to do it for less money, or it might even mean C) they found someone younger to hire, which would tie in to B. I hate to admit it but, at 46, this is now a potential reality, even though, of course, it’s completely illegal.
I digress. Because of all of these things, I find myself losing faith…in myself and in other people, which is something I never wanted to happen. But then, once in a while, something will happen to bring me back.
A couple of nights ago, I was on my way to pick up my daughter from the waterfront, where she had spent a few hours with friends. There had been an SUV in front of me for at least the last 10 miles, taking it’s time, driving at a leisurely pace. (Traffic around this neck of the woods in the summer is just cray-cray.) As I slowed for the dozenth time behind this SUV, a teenage boy on a bike rode out in front of my car, and slammed into a Jeep coming in the opposite direction…so hard he took it’s side mirror clean off. He laid still on the ground and, for about three seconds, it was as if time stood completely still.
And then chaos erupted all around me.
People came running from everywhere, all directions, offering to help. Someone put a clean white cloth or towel under his head; others asked him questions…what’s his name, can he feel his legs, can he move his toes, did he feel pain in his head or neck…others, myself included, were out of our cars and calling 911. People were talking to the driver, asking if he and his passenger were OK.
I was struck by the generosity of everyone present. All these people jumped into action the second they saw someone in need of help. I was moved. Once more, my optimism was restored by these simple acts of compassion. Strangers were willing to help. That was all it took.
It restored my faith in humankind. And I still have hope for all of us.