Sometimes people do or say things that leave you scratching your head. Not because you aren’t as clever as they are and therefore don’t know how to respond, but because it just doesn’t quite sound…right. Something is amiss. It’s unbelievable. It’s…dammit it’s just wrong.
And that is the reaction I got from my sister today when I told her that I was reading an article about a woman who dumped an open jar of mayonnaise into an overnight book drop. (Did I mention that she is 74 years old? The mayo miscreant, not my sister.) So Amanda, my sister, was quiet for a second (very, very rare thing for her) and she said, “I don’t believe you.” To which I responded with the first paragraph of the article and a list of destructive food items the woman had previously “returned” in the book drop, including corn syrup and ketchup. (In case you were wondering, those are not good for books. Stickiness aside, it ruins the glue that binds the book.) Amanda said, “WhY?! Why would someone do that?? It’s like walking up to an innocent kitten and kicking it!” *sniff* *sniff* I couldn’t agree more…
Which got me thinking…what could possibly have made this woman SO mad that she wanted to ruin books. She could have a vendetta against the library for not hiring her, for charging her for books she “SWEAR!” she returned (yeah, sure…), or for shelving books she deems inappropriate.
Or the branch manager is sleeping with her husband.
Or the young page always flirts with her husband.
Or something else to do with her husband, thanks to the insecurities her mother inflicted upon her growing up.
Basically, it’s all bull-honky. Aside from being insane (which isn’t so much a reason as it is an excuse that I will look past, as long as you get the help you need) there is no reason to destroy things that don’t belong to you. I have never vandalized, have never dog-eared or highlighted in a library book, have never even stuck gum on the wooden posts while waiting in a long line at an amusement park. Heck, I even pick up other people’s trash off the sidewalk. I’m like the anti-vandalizer! So why do people trash, take, or tease that which is not theirs?
Lets move this into something a little heavier. Life. I just finished reading Chris Crutcher’s Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. A story in which the protagonist’s best friend is vandalized by her own father. She is destroyed, burned beyond recognition, and tortured on a daily basis. She grows into a strong, clever teenager, but is reminded daily, by her father and schoolmates, that she will never amount to anything because of the way she looks. The book moved me, as Crutcher is so skilled at doing. But, as he is also very apt to do, he gives his readers hope. Sarah Byrnes is psychologically and physically beaten down, but she fights back because of the strength she gets from her only friend, and that friend’s mentor, coach, and teacher. In her darkest hours she is supported by people who could lose a lot by helping her. Their lives, their livelihoods.
But they do it because it is critical that we, the global “we”, take care of those that need it. We cannot just fight for unborn babies, we cannot just support those who give their all every day, who (seem to) have it all, who are (seemingly) without faults or problems, or those who look like they need our help. No. We need to support every single person, whether living, hurting, happy, dying, alive. We need to encourage, feed, love. Just like a nice plant we bought for our coffee table, we need to nurture those around us, especially the weak and frail. Extra attention, physical and emotional support. Many times they won’t ask for our help. But we need to open our blind eyes and notice the calls for help and the signs of abuse and weakness that we can turn in to signs of hope and happiness and success.