The fix-it man was here today… putting in a new kitchen counter top…. exciting. He’s about 40, I’d say. Always looks like he is between three different jobs at once… always working his butt off.… always sweating all over my floor…
He had to make several trips back and forth to the hardware store for parts, and to his workshop to cut and recut the granite before finally laying it in. I continued to work in the other room to stay out of his way.
A few hours in, he came to ask a couple questions about the kitchen’s water line, or something about the water valve… as he started to leave the room, he said, “So where’s the greenery?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. “Greenery?”
He repeated the question, as if saying it slower would somehow clear things up for me. I shrugged.
He then dug deep in his plumber’s pocket, and pulled out a giant bag of weed.
“Ah, GREENERY,” said I.
He had a proud ‘mine is bigger than yours’ face on and continued, “Ya, man. Where’s yours?”
I tried to diffuse and wash the shock off my face, couldn’t think of anything clever to say. “Well, there’s really no room here to grow it.”
He chuckled and went back to his mission in the kitchen.
Funny, I was a little touched and felt closer like we were friends, that he had that much trust and confidence in me to so openly brandish his 10 pound pot baggie right in my face.
By the end of the afternoon, his job was complete, I had my new sparkling kitchen. On his way out, he mentioned how he had to get the weed home to his wife. She is in the middle of chemo treatment for her crazy cancer…. in her liver, and a couple other places throughout her body… the doctors all say it’s now about simply prolonging any little life in her that’s left.
Up to that moment, I didn’t realize how much pain and anguish he was living in. You would never know it. He keeps it all to himself, tucked inside, and has always maintained a happy, life-is-grande disposition.
I am ashamed… all day long I had painted him so clearly and carelessly as a giant pot-head, with all my biases and profiling. I know it’s not the worst thing someone could think of you, but it slapped me in the face… stabbed me in the eye… I always thought I was superhuman and free of judging books by their covers…. but I definitely had done it.
Heavier still, it is so easy to forget how everyone has a hard life. Everybody. Nobody escapes. It’s hard. Sometimes it seems like ONLY heartbreak. You get dealt different cards, but in the end, everyone is broken and everyone has to get through it. It is a constant, pressing weight… and another kick in the pants reminder that my troubles are so small and menial, compared to everyone else.