Black Eyes and Tequila: Or The World is Hard Enough

So I was working the night shift over the weekend and glad for it because I really didn’t want to deal with any people and their crud because I’m tired — tired mentally, emotionally and physically.

I lost a good friend suddenly and that’s been the worst part of this whole year. I keep thinking about him, his family and his work and I just can’t turn off my head to sleep.

That’s bad enough, but I admit the last year has pushed me up against the wall with all the rage and anger and frustration sometimes drowning out the kindness that I know is happening 10 times more often.

So back to my weekend shift. It’s about five minutes before the closing and I’m stocking ice cream pints, Haagen Dazs if you must know. And all of a sudden I hear:

“Faster! Faster! Thrown that ice cream faster!”

I’m on one knee and I’m holding a pint of Double Belgian Chocolate Chip and I take a deep breath and look down at the grey tiles of the floor for a second and then get up, grunting as my hip and back both hurt. I look down the aisle and there’s a guy in a mask and a beanie, clutching a large bottle of Tequila.

I’m thinking, is this really going to happen? Am I going to get into some crud with some guy in the store at 5 minutes to closing. But then I realize, just as quickly, I know this guy. I will call him Nym. I used to work with him and we weren’t close, but we were cordial. Still, not the night for this.

I walk down the aisle to him and he lowers his mask for a second and smiles, before sliding it back almost over his nose.

He looks and smells bad. He’s got two black eyes, a cut over the bridge of his nose and though he’s just bought that bottle of tequila he’s hugging to his chest, his clothes give off a stench of B.O. and alcohol.

“You don’t look so good, Nym. What happened to you?”

“My wife’s been (bleeping) the neighbor for seven months,” he said. “Seven months! I found out, so I go,” (he mimes knocking on a door) “and confront the guy. We got into a fight and the cops came. And then the cops, they threw me in the drunk tank — said I was suicidal.”

“Jeez, sorry to hear all that,” I say and I mean it.

“Yeah, so I get out and I go home,” he’s miming walking and opening a door. “And there they both are, in their underwear. So, there you go. So I just left to come get this,” He pats his bottle of tequila lovingly.

I realize, he’s coming down from his night in the drunk tank and seeing his wife with another guy, so he’s not freshly drunk at least.

“Look, Nym. I’m sorry this all happened. But don’t let someone else’s mistakes and bad decisions (bleep) up your life,” I tell him.

“No. No. Oh, no. I won’t. I got kids, you know,” he replies.

“Okay, well, Nym. You gotta take care of yourself. You need any help?”

“No, I’m good,” he says. He gives me a hug and then he takes off and I go back to work.

In the end, seeing his black eyes and the way he smelled, I thought, that’s about what that last year has felt like.

And so all my anger and my own feelings of frustration with everything melted away, thinking about this. I realize Nym’s face looks like the way this world as been for almost a year now.

It’s a place where the things we count on and take for granted all seem to be in question or jeopardy and then out of frustration some of us go out and make it worse by doing something stupid. But not all of us end up with black eyes and smelling bad. Some people do really stupid things and other people end up with the black eyes.

So I guess that’s reason enough to be kind to others. The world is tough enough at times without us making it harder on each other, especially when we so often make things more difficult for ourselves by giving in to the frustration and anger of the days.

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