Image by spud murphy via Flic
Last week, my kids and I went to the Bear Tooth Theatre to see Afghan Star, a documentary about the Afghan “equivalent” to American Idol. Contestants compete to be the Afghan Star without ever moving their feet or their bodies. They are only allowed to sing. It created a national outrage when one of the women who was being voted off the show defiantly dances around the stage (no more provocative than what my daughter did in her 4 year old dance recital) and allows her scarf to fall back off her hair.
But, speaking of outrage… Ten minutes, or so, into the movie I heard a cell phone ringing a few rows in front of me. This reminded me that I had neglected to silence my cell phone. I retrieved the phone out of my purse and instead of just opening it, I pushed the on/off button. Well, apparently, the phone was OFF in the first place and so when I pushed the button it went through its whole prolonged start up mode. So then I had to wait for it to turn on so that I could turn it off again. All this time the screen is like a beacon announcing that there is a complete tech simpleton in the 10th row. The lady sitting in the seat right next to me says in an icy tone, “Do you mind shutting that thing off? It’s bothering me.” I said as quickly and quietly and nicely as I could manage, “I’m just trying to make sure that it is shut off.” “You were supposed to shut that off before the movie ever started. They made an announcement.” Her tone was now positively frigid as though she had never had to sit next to such a rude dolt in all of her life.
Then my son started scolding me, “Mom, turn that thing off. It’s shining in everyone’s eyes!” “I’m trying!”, I say as I frantically push buttons. “Just close it. Just do blah, blah, blah.” It seemed to last forever. Finally, darkness settled again. There I sat red faced and humiliated, uncomfortably imagining all of the things the people all around me were thinking about me. I felt like I did in 3rd grade when Mrs. Carbon made me stand in the corner. I can still remember thinking how wrongly I had been accused and punished, but how difficult it was to defend myself while my nose was stuck into a crack in the wall. It was also difficult to explain myself to complete strangers in a darkened theater. Really, I want to say, I’m not a bad person. I actually try really hard to be kind and considerate, even loving. Yeah, in this case, I was a total cell phone bumbler, but I didn’t mean to disrupt your enjoyment. I really only want good things for all of you.
Probably most of the time when people cut us off in traffic, walk past without acknowledging us, or fail us in some other way, they aren’t being mean or purposely rude. They are just unaware, bumbling around a little. This experience helps me to think about being more aware of all of the people around me and how my actions impact them. I also want to be more thoughtful about not reacting negatively, either outwardly or inwardly, when people make their little mistakes. I’m going to try really hard to extend some grace, because next time I blow it, I really would like someone to extend the same to me.