Putting Down Roots

seeing people
December 4, 2010, 12:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This morning, I saw two camp directors in their pajamas. Both of these women are people I’ve worked for, people I respect enormously, people who I look to for guidance and support. And both of them are people who, like me, have really silly looking hair when they first get out of bed, just like the rest of us.

There’s something wonderful about being able to see other people as humans, instead of looking simply at that surface-level picture of what their role is in this world. When I walked through the food line in the cafeteria at school, I liked remembering that–instead of merely serving me a quinoa-stuffed acorn squash with a side of pinto beans and collards and apple-crisp made of leftover oatmeal–the server was waiting for That Person They Liked to walk through the line (much as I did when I was the cashier there). When I buy my groceries from someone, I try and imagine what they’re going home to when their shift is done in 18 minutes (just ask them: they can always tell you exactly how much longer they have to work). And the other day, when I was tearfully trying to cancel half of a roundtrip reservation on Delta, a change that would cost me an extra $81–even with a “bereavement discount”–I caught myself before losing patience with the woman on the line. I found myself saying, “you’re a human being, so you understand that this makes no logical sense, I know you do. You’re not trying to make my life hard, you’re just following the rules. You know this is absurd.” She laughed. She’s just another person doing her job.

We live in a world that dehumanizes and separates. The less we see people as humans just like us, the less we connect with them, and the less we care about them. The more we see people as human–the more we recognize that they’ve got faults and quirks and fears and little things that make them smile–the more we’ll be able to build up a world where people are taking care of each other.

That, or we’ll just keep getting a really good idea of what people look like when they wake up.


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