During the week of Halloween, one such moment haunted me.
Years ago, shortly after I joined Facebook, a former high school classmate posted an innocuous comment about people wearing their pajamas at Go-Mart at 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon.
The person who posted the comment said nothing about what the people in pajamas were buying or what their socioeconomic status might be. The comment was simply about wearing pajamas at 3:00 in the afternoon.
But as soon as she posted her remark, others reacted with comments about lazy people buying beer and cigarettes and how they were wasting our hard-earned tax dollars.
Their immediately jumped to conclusions, and the hateful comments bothered me immensely. Yet I added nothing to the conversation. I simply rolled my eyes at how judgmental people can be.
I never forgot my decision to remain silent, and reminders haunt me at the most random times
Take, for example, my experience with the bank this week. My ophthalmologist recently changed contact lens providers, so I when I had to renew my prescription online. I also had to provide all my debit card information.
And that’s when I realized my debit card expired on Halloween, and I hadn’t received a new one.
After almost a half hour of wasted time trying to reach a live person on the bank’s customer service line, I called my local branch. The woman who answered the phone was kind and helpful. She told me my card had been mailed in September in a plain, unmarked envelope.
“You probably thought it was junk mail and threw it away,” she said. “A lot of people do that.”
After she took care of the issue, she reminded me to look for a plain white envelope in the mail.
“Don’t make the same mistake again,” she said. “The envelope might not look like much, but its contents are invaluable.”
Her words reminded me of the people in pajamas and the immediate judgments others made about them. I had made a judgment that a plain white envelope was junk mail, and they had made a judgement that people who wear pajamas in public are lazy.
I was still thinking about the plain white envelope and the people in pajamas when I stopped to pick up a few items at the grocery store.
As I got out of my car, a dirty and disheveled man approached me and asked for fifty cents to make a phone call. Normally, I assume the money isn’t really for a phone call, and I brush off such requests by saying I don’t have any cash or change. But this time, I thought about the envelope and about making rash judgements. I realized I shouldn’t really care why the man was asking for money. No matter what, he was a person with feelings.
I dug into my purse and handed the man fifty cents. In return, he gave me a brilliant smile.
That smile was worth more than fifty cents, and it reminded me of a debit card disguised in a plain white envelope.
As the woman at the bank said, it was invaluable.