Nice Shoes – No, Really

Blog No. 16

I have a story I like to tell about riding my bike to school.  The story isn’t about bike riding, or school, or me.  It’s about an old man who I don’t know.

Up hill, both ways.

I would ride my bike every morning to get to school.  It was always at the same time and I always took the same rout.  (I am a creature of habit and luckily not worth anything to kidnappers).  One day, a few turns into my half hour ride, I saw a man walking very slowly down his driveway.  He was struggling and using a walker.  I didn’t think much other than to feel sorry for the guy (I was a teenager and had important high school stuff to worry about and quickly forgot about him).

The next day I saw him again, struggling to get to the end of his driveway with his walker.  For the next few months I saw more of the same, but with one simple change; every once in a while, he was a little further and moving a little faster.  A couple months later he was using a cane, and a couple months after that he didn’t even need it.  He was walking comfortably, and by the time I passed him he was far down the street from the driveway where he started, (moving as quickly as I probably can now).

I like to think I learned a lot from that situation.  Something about slow starts and end results, maybe something about hard work and health.  One thing I am sure of, what that man did will be an inspiration to me my whole life.  I don’t know what happened to the man that he needed the walker in the first place.  I didn’t have the nerve to ask him.  I didn’t even tell him I thought he was doing a good job.  Part of that comes from my personality, I am rather shy in person, but for the most part my hesitation comes from sarcasm.

Sarcasm has become a regular form of communication in our society.  People are proud to be sarcastic.  I can’t really judge, I am as sarcastic as the next asshole.  It’s gotten so that I have to preface my statements to my friends, telling them I’m not being sarcastic in that instance.  It might have something to do with my facial expressions, or that I think I am hilarious (and therefore I am always trying to be funny).  But I get accused of being sarcastic all the time.  It’s not as bad as people telling me I have a cold (It happened twice last night) but it happens a lot.  I really do believe most of that comes from people being so sarcastic and mean to each other.  It has gotten so bad that a teenager can’t tell a man “way to go”, when some encouragement might have really helped.

Often I will be driving around and see people running or walking, and sometimes looking like they are really having a bad time.  My first reaction is to yell “Good Job” or “Keep It Up” but I hesitate.  I’m afraid they’ll think I’m some sarcastic prick making fun of them for struggling.  I’m too afraid to even compliment strangers on whatever they deserve to be complimented (it doesn’t matter what but if you really need an example, let’s say their shoes).  I think it’s sad.  It could be that it is all my personal hang-up, and I am certainly ready to admit that my shyness is definitely part of my problem, but I don’t think I can bear all the blame.

I’m not trying to make some big message about the world, and the last thing I want this blog to be is a diatribe against my perceived flaws in society.  I usually like to keep my topics and comments light hearted.  But I felt compelled to talk about this one.  Go ahead and be proud of your sarcasm, use it well against the people and things that could use a dose of reality.  But remember that the more you use it, let less power it will have, and the next compliment you make might be taken as a hurtful quip (you asshole).

One thought on “Nice Shoes – No, Really

  1. Stop beating around the bush and just admit you’re a sarcastic asshole. Heh heh.

    Personally, I do know the difference when you’re being sarcastic (most of the time) and when you’re honestly giving me a compliment or whatever. Though, even I have difficulty every once in awhile with that! And that’s after 16 years.. so..yeah. Sarcastic asshole.

    I really like the recalling of that guy with the walker. When you told me it the first time, it seemed like a really powerful memory. It’s true that for everything, every little bit counts and everything adds up. I guess in our fast paced, gimme now world, it’s hard to remember day to day that each little step will add up. Sometimes we’re just super impatient or temporarily stop caring (and then pay the price the next day when we whine about it).

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