I just apologized to the complete stranger that I snapped at five minutes ago while we were both standing in line to be seated at the Terrace Cafe at Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, where I have no place being because I’m not a gambler, I’m not into nightlife, and I’ve cut back so much on my drinking that yesterday at the pool I was drinking free water from a spigot next to the soda machine while sitting next to a cabana bar with a 2 for 1 price deal on margaritas.
So what did this offensive stranger do?
She talked to me.
She asked me questions.
She thought I was kidding when I said I couldn’t hear her.
“What’s wrong?” She asked when I scowled after the 12th question.
And then I snapped, channeled my memories of a teenager daughter in my kitchen. Erupted. Not in a profane or crazy way but in an unfriendly, hostile way, a very intensified prickliness. Not how I normally act, let’s say.
She looked at me, puzzled, a distressed look on her face, and then moved away to stand next to her husband. I was called for the next table way back in the corner near the windows where I could write the blog I wanted to write before my friend came down to join me.
I need to apologize, I thought to myself, and I got up, put my phone in my pocket, and decided to go find her, peeking around the pillars of the restaurant, a hundred tables but she was nowhere in sight. And then, of course, as luck would have it, the hostess brought the woman and her husband and her parents to a table for four practically next to mine.
I got up before she even sat down. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
She looked wounded, she looked like she was wondering why she would talk to me, but she came around the side of the pillar and I just told her. “I have a terrible hearing disability. When I’m in restaurants sometimes the sound is deafening and I can’t understand what people are saying. I get really frustrated sometimes. And I snapped at you. And I’m really sorry.”
“Oh, that’s alright.” She smiled and reached to hug me. Yes, I hugged the offensive stranger with her perfect tan, her sequined off the shoulder top, her pixie haircut and dangling hoop earrings while I was wearing my khaki pants and t-shirt, my hearing aids gracefully draped behind each ear.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Well, first of all, people with disabilities can get tired of coping and get cranky. I’m generalizing from my own experience but I think I’m right. It’s a strain to cope with a disability and it’s a strain to be remember not to blame other people for a situation they know nothing about. I was reminded of that today. I need to do better.
Second, it’s a good thing to apologize. Pretty deep thought, isn’t it? There isn’t enough apology in the world. I’m upping my contribution.
Anyway, not profound maybe but that’s what I’ve got today.