I wake up really early. To a point that I am often the first one on the roads, the first customer at the local Starbucks, the first person in the office, the first person to use the loo (I drink a lot of water) and so on and so forth. And thus I often get to see people and things that others miss. Like there is hardly any security at any office complex at 7 AM. The loos inside these office complexes, malls, and other places stink like fish markets because there is no one to clean those overnight. The staff at Starbucks is more concerned about getting the display right than serving the customers.
Today was no different. I came in at 7 AM. Said hi to the security guard that did do a customary check on my bag. The Barista made my coffee without me even placing the order. I had some 120023 glasses of water. And when at around 9 my bladder was about to burst, I ran to the loo. And there was this young boy, probably from the north-east cleaning the toilet. And may I say he was doing a kick-ass job at it. I mean I have seen my share of blue-collar work and my never-ending complaint is that most blue-collared workers do not take pride in what they do. They do because they do not have any other opportunities per se.
This guy was doing what Will Smith said about laying bricks. Each brick to the best of his ability. This guy was cleaning each inch of the place to the best of his ability. And I love people who do their jobs well. I made a mental note to look for him and hire him when I am able to. And I moved on.
Fast forward a couple of hours. I rushed to the loo yet again (yes I drink a lot of water) and I saw the young boy howling. He was surrounded by a couple of other workers from the mall. These older workers were consoling him. I tried to overhear but I could not understand the reason for commotion there. By the time I decided I want to intervene, a small crowd had gathered there, mostly made of staff at the mall. And I decided to not. I suck at handling mobs, crowds, and other such gatherings.
I peed as fast as I could, did not want my bladder to burst. And in the meanwhile, the guy had gotten quieter. Thank God for that. I should've asked him but I did not have the heart to go and even ask why was he crying.
I wish I had the balls to. I wish I had the resources to make him happy again. I mean I know that life's purpose is to not chase happiness (well, I can debate) but I also know that the ones like me that are divinely discontent are ok with this discontentment in our bones. But the aam aadmi may not be. Most people I know seek peace, happiness, and other such things. And I think if they are not as fucked in the head as I am, they are well within their rights to seek happiness. And as someone who believes that the purpose of my life is to enable others to do better, I must be able to intervene and give them what they seek. Even if its happiness!
That's the sad part of being human. There are 7.5 billion others around you. And each is in a different place on the continuum of sadness and happiness. Some are bang in the middle - at equanimity - but they are few and far between. I really wish I knew where is my default state on this continuum. I think I am around equanimity but I lean to the happiness side. I know of people that are equanimous but lean to sadness. And that is ok!
Brings me to an interesting juncture. And the entire point of this post.
I have realized that I tend to avoid even knowing about what makes other people sad. I can give numerous examples to substantiate this. When I am on the road and I pass by an accident, I do not look at the site. I simply turn my head. I don't want to look at the gore and tears and all that. I don't see films that showcase pathos. Like this recent film that came out where Deepika Padukone is trying to highlight the plight of the acid attack victims, despite angry skirmishes with a very dear friend, I could not bring myself to watch it. A friend suffered from a brain surgery a few years ago and she wanted me to see the pics of the operation, I could not. When someone suffers or is at a hospital, I don't know what to do about it. I want to be around, comfort them but I don't know how to do it without getting affected myself. A few days ago when a friend had a meltdown, I went in a shell for a few days. I am weak like that. I am not a good friend at such junctures. I HATE those WhatsApp forwards and videos that show accidents and gore. And I have friends that revel in sharing those. I know they get pleasure and these are intriguing. But these things make me suck in the gut.
I am often told by colleagues that my negotiation skills suck and I often leave a lot of money on the table for others. I am told that I go out of my way to make everyone happy and in the process get fucked myself. And I am told that even when I see that people are taking me for a ride, I play along, get hurt and make large, terrible losses. I once lost all my savings and 2-3 years of life because I was way too empathetic to say no to a bad idea. I often get into trouble when I poke my nose into the affairs of strangers on the Internet and try to offer them advice and inputs. I have been called a creep and psychopath and all that. At traffic signals when those beggars come and flaunt their disfigured bodies, I am unable to look at those. There is this restaurant here in Mumbai where the waiting staff is deaf and dumb. They may have the best food but I can not bring myself to ever go there. They may claim to give employment to people that need it, but I really think they are paddling pathos to profit from it. Or may be not. The point is, I can not bring myself to consume that.
Thing is, I can't help but try and help when I know that things could be better. I feel compelled. You know, how people cant control?
No, I am not a pushover. No, I don't seek acceptance. No, I don't want approval. Rather, I want to be rich and connected and all that and I don't know if it's possible without being able to tramp on others. But I do know that I cant see people that are sad. And if while negotiating someone plays the sadness card, I let go.
Coming back to the young boy at the mall. I don't know what made him that sad. But I do know that his tears have given me the inspiration to do more. To be able to reach a point where I can give away material things if those tears were induced by the want of something like that.
Over and out.
PS: If it's an emotional turmoil, I don't know how to help. May be become a guru or something.
PPS: I know it is not my problem and I don't need to help everyone. I know people don't even want help. And definitely not from me. And I know that people find a way. And I know time heals. And etc etc.
PPPS: As a kid, some 20-25 years, I saw a video of an American journalist's throat being slit. Slowly. deliberately. With patience. Without any remorse. Even though I saw it at a friend's place, on a grainy computer screen, the scene often plays in my head. And every time it does, I get fucked. As I write this, to be honest, I have this funny feeling in a pit at the back of my mind and I may just throw up. Later! Typos and formatting can wait.