Friday, June 24, 2011
Rude T-Shirt Guy
I may try to look like a lady, but I easily cuss like a sailor. This is not something I am proud of but it is a fact. The only word I won’t use even when I find situations requiring strong language is the G.D. phrase. Unless I truly want God to damn someone or something, there just isn’t any place for that particular combo in my spiel. It hurts my ears to hear it and it hurts my heart to say it.
So we are clear that bad words do feel fairly at home in my life. Even so, I ‘met’ someone one weekend who hurt me deeply. I’ll call him “Rude T-Shirt Guy.” We never spoke, he and I, but I feel so bad for him that I wanted to share the discourse right now even though I meant to be stealing a nap while my cherubs doze.
I was driving happily along doing weekend-y things when I passed a pedestrian male wearing a black t-shirt with large block letters that said “**** YOU.” (There was no asterisk on his shirt, however; it was all clearly spelled out for me.) He was a young guy, a bit of a rough-looking guy, and I thought a lot about him after that.
Who wears that shirt out in public? I’m sure we all have that kind of day sometimes, but we don’t wear it on a t-shirt. What kind of man wants that message to define him on this particular day? I figure he must be unhappy with his life. I wonder who has hurt him so much and so often that he wants to drive away any other people he may encounter. I guess he must not like himself and must have little respect for himself to have so little thought for other people. I felt sad that this man’s family might have missed a beat in cherishing him, in supporting him, in loving him out loud every day when he was younger. Was he the kid whose father was abusive instead of loving? Or absent instead of present? Was his brain not as sharp as some other people’s causing him to have a rough time in school and to get made fun of because of it? Did he just think ‘living his rudeness out loud’ was funny?
I prayed that this guy would know his special gifts for the world, that someone would value him openly and help heal his hurts. I hope that someone will buy him a better set of t-shirts than the ones I think may be in his dresser drawers.
I also gave thanks for my Dad, family, and friends who raised me well with respect for myself and other people. I was grateful to my Mother for caring about others who were less fortunate, who had developmental disabilities or drug problems...because her life taught me to be kinder, to have more empathy for strangers. I was thankful that education was important in my family and among my friends so that I worked to do well and finish college even as an adult.
This Rude T-Shirt Guy made me think of the invisible t-shirts we all wear. What did my t-shirt say today? How do my words, my actions and my face register to other people? Do I really think my sarcasm is helpful? Am I helping someone by judging their looks or behavior against my own? Do I do myself any favors by judging myself against other people who are prettier, thinner, more polished than I think I am? If I am in a hurry and particularly abrupt with a cashier or a friend on the phone...am I living my love out loud in that moment?
Let’s wear a shirt every day that says “YOU ARE IMPORTANT!” or maybe “I AM HILARIOUS, WANNA HEAR A JOKE?” or “I WILL SMILE AND INDULGE YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE DRIVING ME NUTS” or even “IF THERE ARE ONLY SMALL THINGS I’LL CELEBRATE SOMETHING TODAY!” What if Rude T-Shirt Guy’s big block letters simply read “THANK YOU”? How would that have changed his day, let alone mine?
What do you hope your t-shirt said to the people who read it today? What do you think it actually said? Whatever will you wear tomorrow?