Thursday, July 19, 2018

Absentia

Surprise! Also this month I'm going back through my archives and finding a few lost pieces that never made it on the blog. This was inspired by an actual person I stood behind in line at Joann's, and how I went home and thought a lot about what I should have done. (I didn't actually text anyone; I just didn't help.) I never put it up here because it felt preachy, but I've been thinking a lot about compassion lately, and I figure we could all use a bit of it right now, even from a quilt blogger who is usually just being a smartass. 




HEY THERE.

What the—?!

DID I SCARE YOU?

Who is— What is— What the hell is going on?

DON'T BE AFRAID. I DON'T BITE.

(putting hands over ears) What is happening?

OH, HEY, SORRY. IS THIS TOO LOUD?

Yes!

OK. IS THIS BETTER?

What? No!

HOW ABOUT NOW?

No!

NOW?

Why are you doing this? It's exactly the same each ti—

HA HA JK I'M ALWAYS ON ELEVEN

Please tell me what's going on.

WE NEED TO TALK.

About what? And I don't even know who I'm talking to.

ABOUT YOU. AND YOU CAN CALL ME BERTRAM.

Bertram???

YOU DON'T LIKE THAT? WOULD YOU PREFER A MORE FEMALE NAME? HOW ABOUT ABSENTIA?

That's not even a real name.

WELL IT SHOULD BE.

But...that doesn't even answer my—

I MEAN, I THINK IT KINDA SUITS ME.

That's it. I've gone nuts. This is how people go nuts, right? They start hearing voices, and then they start listening to the voices, and then they get carted away.

I PROMISE YOU'LL LIKE IT IF YOU STOP FIGHTING IT

What the—

THAT CAME OUT WRONG.

Who the ever-loving hell are you????

LET'S JUST SAY: AN INTERESTED PARTY.

An interested party? Interested in what?

YOU.

What about me?

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THAT TRIP YOU TOOK TO JOANN'S YESTERDAY.

Joann's? The hell? Yep, I've lost it.

YES, JOANN'S. DO YOU REMEMBER?

Well, yeah.

REMEMBER THE WOMAN IN FRONT OF YOU IN LINE AT THE CUTTING COUNTER?

Her? Uh, yeah. So?

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT HER?

Oh, okay, well—get this: she has like 6 bolts up on the counter, right? And the guy doing the cutting is all, "How much do you want?" And she's like, "Well, how much do I need?" And he goes, "For what?" And she goes, "A quilt." And he's like, "Well it depends on the pattern," and she's like, "I don't have a pattern; it's all squares." And he goes, "What size are the squares?" And she just starts gesturing in the air with both hands like, I don't know—this big? OMG, we were there forever waiting for her to figure this shit out.

UH HUH. AND WHAT DID YOU DO WHILE THIS WAS GOING ON?

Stood there. Waited.

WHAT ELSE?

I don't know, looked at my phone probably.

PRETTY SURE YOU TEXTED YOUR BFF CELEXA

Her name is Debbie. How do you know that I texted someone at JoAnn's but you don't know their name?

SHALL WE LOOK AT THE TEXT?

I remember the text. I just told her what was going on with that completely clueless woman holding up the line.

THIS TEXT:



 Ok, it was a little mean, I guess, but geez. I had things to do!

YOU SPENT THE REST OF THE DAY BINGE-WATCHING POLDARK.

Well, yeah, but Aidan Turner—

AIDAN TURNER'S BARE CHEST IS NOT REALLY AN EXCUSE. WELL, NOT FOR THIS ANYWAY.

Okay, but so what? My time is important to me and she shouldn't have held up the line like that. End of story.

WELL, NO.

What do you mean?

IT'S NOT THE END OF THE STORY. WHICH IS BASICALLY MY POINT HERE. GET COMFORTABLE, ZIMA—I HAVE A TALE TO TELL.

My name's Elizab—

THAT "LOSER" WAS TRYING TO MAKE A QUILT FOR HER SISTER. HER SISTER'S BABY HAD PASSED AWAY, AND SHE WAS BESIDE HERSELF WITH GRIEF. SHE REMEMBERED A FRIEND AT CHURCH WHO HAD LOST A CHILD AND THAT SOMEONE MADE HER A QUILT TO HELP COMFORT HER. AND SO SHE WANTED TO DO THAT FOR HER SISTER BECAUSE SHE COULDN'T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE TO DO. SHE BECAME FIXATED ON DOING THIS EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN'T REALLY KNOW HOW TO SEW BECAUSE SHE WAS SO DESPERATE TO HELP. SHE HAD NO IDEA WHERE TO START BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHO TO ASK AND SHE DOESN'T HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION BECAUSE SHE AND HER HUSBAND CAN'T AFFORD IT RIGHT NOW. SHE SCRAPED TOGETHER MONEY AND COUPONS AND FIGURED MAYBE SHE COULD JUST GO AHEAD AND GET SOME OF THE FABRIC WHILE SHE COULD AND MAYBE SOMEONE WOULD BE KIND ENOUGH TO HELP HER FIGURE IT OUT. SHE HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING THAT THE JOANN'S WORKERS AREN'T REALLY SUPPOSED TO GIVE THAT MUCH HELP BECAUSE OF THE TIME IT TAKES, AND SHE KNEW, EVEN AS SHE WAS ASKING, THAT SHE WAS PROBABLY IN OVER HER HEAD, BUT SHE HAD PRAYED FOR A MIRACLE AND GAVE IT A SHOT ANYWAY. SHE DIDN'T GET HER MIRACLE. NO ONE STEPPED UP TO HELP HER. SHE PUT THE FABRICS BACK AND LEFT AND ISN'T GOING TO BE MAKING HER SISTER A QUILT NOW.

Oh. Well, how was I supposed to know that?

COUNTERPOINT: HOW WERE YOU NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?

I...Wait, what?

EVERY QUILTER—EVERY QUILT—HAS A STORY. SOME ARE LONG, COMPLEX, DRAMATIC TALES AND SOME ARE BORING AF. BUT YOU HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING WHAT THAT STORY IS, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S A COMPLETE STRANGER. SO WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THE STORY THAT SAYS SHE'S A DUMB BITCH WHO IS WASTING EVERYONE'S TIME?

Well, I—

THE WORLD IS FULL OF PEOPLE. AND YEAH, SOME ARE SMART AND SOME ARE DUMB AND THERE ARE INDEED SOME SPECTACULAR ASSHOLES AMONG THEM. BUT EVEN THE SPECTACULAR ASSHOLES HAVE A STORY ABOUT WHAT MADE THEM SPECTACULAR ASSHOLES.

So, okay, I should have helped her. I get that now.

PERHAPS. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, YOU SHOULD HAVE ASSUMED SHE WAS WORTHY OF BEING HELPED.

What if she was, like, a serial killer or something?

HONEY, PLEASE. THE FBI ESTIMATES THAT THERE ARE PROBABLY NO MORE THAN 50 SERIAL KILLERS OPERATING IN THE US AT ANY ONE TIME. PROBABLY LESS. THERE ARE 318.9 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE US. TRUST ME, YOU ARE NOT RUNNING INTO A SERIAL KILLER IN LINE AT JOANN'S. QUITE POSSIBLY AT TARGET THOUGH.

Ok, but you know what I mean. Maybe you go out of your way to help someone, and it turns out they're just not a good person. They're mean to dogs or they park in handicapped spots or they steal money out of tip jars.

OR THEY CALL PEOPLE THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW "BITCH" AND "LOSER".

Exactly! Wait...

GOTCHA!

All right, so I'll do better. I'll help everyone and be super nice. Is that what you want?

HERE'S WHAT I WANT: JUST ONE THING. YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO DO IT ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. JUST ONCE A DAY. ONCE EACH DAY, WHEN YOU COME ACROSS SOMEONE BEING ANNOYING OR CLUELESS OR EVEN DOWNRIGHT RUDE, ASSUME THE VERY BEST THING YOU CAN ABOUT THEM. ASSUME THEY ARE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN WITH WHAT THEY'VE BEEN GIVEN, EVEN IF IT INCONVENIENCES OR BUGS THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF YOU. I'M NOT EVEN SAYING YOU HAVE TO ACT ON THAT ASSUMPTION. JUST ONCE A DAY MAKE THAT THE DEFAULT INSTEAD OF GOING STRAIGHT FOR THE EYE-ROLL. AND THEN... JUST SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

I guess I can do that...

AND IF IT DOES TURN OUT THAT YOUR NEW-FOUND PERSPECTIVE INSPIRES YOU TO GIVE QUILTING ADVICE TO A SERIAL KILLER, WHO KNOWS? MAYBE THAT ONE MOMENT OF KINDNESS PREVENTS A MURDER THAT DAY.

Wow, you think that could happen?

THE POINT IS, YOU WON'T KNOW. KNOWING DOESN'T MATTER. GETTING CREDIT DOESN'T MATTER. COMPASSION DOES.

Well, I guess I could try it. Since a mysterious and insanely loud disembodied voice is telling me to. Wait...are you...Ellen?

NO. I MEAN, CLOSE, BUT NO.

Close? Gasp! Stephen Colbert????

GOTTA GO, DAYTONA. THERE'S A CRANKY QUILTER IN DUBUQUE GETTING READY TO WRITE A NASTY FACEBOOK COMMENT ABOUT SOMEONE'S GRAMMAR. PEACE OUT.




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