I spent the afternoon writing in a cafe. A woman, who seemed to have ordered her coffee on an app before arrival, balled out the barista who hadn’t prepared the required beverage in time for her to walk in, pick up and walk out. He’s a bit pompous in telling her to wait a moment and she responds by brandishing her phone, “Well I wouldn’t have used this if I had wanted to wait in line, would I?” It wasn’t really a question.
As I cycled home a man walked into the road right in front of me, I swerve to avoid him and shout out as I pass, “Don’t forget to look as you cross the road.” He tells me to go away. He didn’t really say, “Go away.” And I was a little more patronising than I should have been.
“Hell is other people,” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre. Well only if that’s the world we want to live in.
There is another way to see “other people;” as colour, experience, a test of our capacity to love and be kind.
Speculations on who is exactly how much to blame in these, or so many other interactions, misses the point. The real culprit is the irritation we all feel at other people getting in our way. The key to this last sentence is ‘we all feel.’ We can do something about that. We have the power to get less irritated. We have the power to find other people fascinating - even if they remain annoying. We certainly have the power to restrain our snippiness. And we certainly should.
A good ‘sealing’ to one and all. See you in Shul,