I saw her at Tim Horton's on a Thursday morning. Her hair was blonde, stick straight and pulled up in a ponytail. She had a coffee in her perfectly manicured hand and was clad in yoga pants, which were obviously created for a woman with a body type like hers. She had a beautiful smile, was super perky and I'm sure she was a nice person. I will never know, because I ate her alive....
You see, the back story here is this. My father is sick and our family is struggling to do what's best for him while we figure out our new normal. It's obvious to many people in my immediate life that I'm not handling this with a whole lot of grace some days. This Thursday morning was one of those days.
My morning started off with an 8:30 meeting at an assisted living place we were trying to get dad admitted to. From there I was to swiftly rush my dad to a doctor's appointment for a monthly follow up after his hospital release. The appointment was for 10:30 am. With a little bit of luck and pixie dust, I managed to usher my father into his doctor's office at 10:27 am. At this point I was feeling pretty good about my morning accomplishments, and then the receptionist opened her sliding glass door.
I said: "Good Morning! We're here for a 10:30 appointment."
She looked at me and said: "I'm sorry your appointment was for 10:00 am."
At this point I tried to explain all my discharge paperwork said the appointment was for 10:30 am and essentially begged the receptionist to work us into the schedule.
The receptionist simply shrugged her shoulders and said: "Sorry!"
In my normal life, a minor inconvenience like this would not derail me, but on this day, it wrecked me. It was as if every tear I had not shed for the last several weeks came out right there in the lobby in the worst "ugly cry" I have ever cried. And once I started crying, I could not stop. I cried out of frustration, sadness, exhaustion, and just flat out defeat.
Breaking me from my tears was Candy the receptionist saying a little too happily: "I would be happy to reschedule your appointment for you!" Now, I know when I get that angry, I tend to go from 0-60 in mere seconds, and I have been working on this so I snarked at Candy as nicely as I could muster that we would not be rescheduling our appointment as I ushered my father out the door. As I was feeling sorry for my dad because he looked so dejected after waiting weeks for his appointment, he said to me: "Emmy, don't cry! I'm sorry I'm sick and putting you through all this. Can we go to Tim Horton's for lunch? I'm hungry." Quickly I turned off my tears, gathered myself up, swallowed my anger and decided to take my dad out for his favorite chicken noodle soup.
This is where I met Yuppie Barbie.
As my dad hurried through the door of Tim Horton's, on a mission to find the nearest restroom, I brought up the rear. My father said hello to Yuppie Barbie on his way past her and I glanced at her, still just thinking about my morning and my new life.
And that is when Yuppie Barbie said the sentence that almost ended her life. A little to perky, with her pony tail swaying, Barbie says: "Smile! It can't be that bad!" Only unbeknownst to Barbie it WAS THAT bad!
Without thinking, and with NO restraint, I swung around, met Barbie eye to eye with a look that could kill, and let it fly: "You know WHAT?! You have NO idea just how bad IT is right now! My dad is in the fight of his life against an illness! I can't find an assisted living place who takes his Medicaid, and without that he's essentially homeless! His medication is expensive, 100% necessary, and I can't seem to secure a way to pay for it. Did I mention we're facing foreclosure and the reality that he is loosing EVERYTHING?! That I am using ALL of my vacation and sick time to take him to appointment after appointment and THIS is my WHOLE life right now?! And on top of ALL OF THIS, we missed his appointment this morning even though we were exactly where we were supposed to be ON TIME! So you know what?! Where life might not be that bad for you, it SUCKS for me currently!"
Quickly Barbie left Tim Horton's and truly I felt bad for unleashing on this woman, but honestly the more I got to thinking about it, when did in become okay to assume you know how another person is feeling, what they're thinking or exactly what struggle they're walking through in life. Perhaps they don't want to smile because they aren't happy. Perhaps they just lost their job, recently got a horrible cancer diagnosis, or their child has passed away. People don't wear signs making it obvious as to what personal struggle they're dealing with, so how about we do each other a favor and say or do something positive to the person facing a difficult time, build them up, let them know we care, and for the love of God folks, lets please stop using the phrase: "Smile! It can't be that bad!".......