On my walk to the restroom the other day I was preoccupied with an email I’d just received. During my walk I was mulling over my response, or if I needed to respond at all. I was completely unaware of my surroundings, walking towards the restroom on auto-pilot.
I turned the corner in the hallway and I didn’t notice the woman coming towards me. She was now directly in my path. She’d just come out of the women’s restroom and had a book in one hand and a coffee in her other hand. We were going to collide if I didn’t move out of the way. In my head, I saw the coffee exploding onto the walls, our clothing, and the floor. This was not going to be good.
I had two choices. One, to run into her (as gracefully as possible) and attempt to grab a hold of her so that neither of us fall. My other choice is to use the wall next to her to avoid the coffee collision. And that’s what I do. I quickly reach my arm past her face over her head and push myself off the wall to avoid running into her. It was an awkward move on my part, but the only one that I could do in order to keep the coffee in her cup. She passed under my outstretched arm, and I rebound off the wall.
She scoffed at my clumsiness, making some sharp remark about my maneuver, and then disappeared around the corner to continue her day. I’m grateful for the near miss. I’m also reminded about the limitations we humans have, and how little grace I give others in their limitations. People have way more going on in their life than I can ever know.
This woman didn’t know me. She didn’t know that I have a lower leg disability that makes it entirely impossible for me to shift my walking direction as quickly as one who is able bodied. Her snap judgement of my ability was without curiosity or kindness. And that’s ok. Perhaps she herself was having an unusually difficult day.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a fierce battle.” ~Plato