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Do you ever feel that no matter how many good deeds you perform in a day, somebody or something is going to erupt to ruin the warm fuzzies? This has been happening to me a lot lately.
For instance, I regularly clean my house and can often be found on my hands and knees, vacuuming cat hair out from underneath the beds or scrubbing the bathroom floors. These are good deeds for the household. I was cleaning the bathroom the other day and the phone rang; it was my brother.
“Hi!” I said, wiping up a hairball from behind the toilet. “Whassup?”
“I’m just going to cut to the chase here,” he said. “The whole family thinks you’re abusing drugs. You isolate yourself and slur your words.”
Oh my God, I thought. I don’t shlur my words. Not on purposh. I have a shpeech impediment.
“I am NOT abusing drugs and you can pass that along the family grapevine,” I replied, polishing the mirror so I could see myself more clearly, even if others could not. “Solve-it-all was prescribed for me because I need it, so I take it. Get used to it.”
We hung up then and made up later, but not before all the joy was sucked out of my sparkling toilet.
And I often have playtime with my cats, ten minutes or so in the late morning of dragging long pieces of twine around the house, over the river and through the woods. I gaily urge them, “Come on! Get it! You can do it! Run run run!” This morning during playtime, I galloped by my computer to check my e-mail: you never know when an important one might slide in.
There were two of note, one from a friend in Minnesota who had just received the package of coupons I’d sent to her upon her request, budget gal that she is: “You don’t understand my health situation! These are not the right type of coupons! Stop sending them! I don’t eat like you!” Hm, okay, I thought. Maybe I’ll blow my head off after playtime.
The other e-mail was from a summer school student, responding to my “Welcome Aboard!” note: “I cannot access anything for our online class that starts in a week. I am totally confused about online classes and feel like you are ignoring me. I want my money back and will be reporting you to the dean. Thank you.”
Cheerful kitty-string playtime continued for a good five minutes while I thought about how teaching used to be so much easier when students didn’t bully me, when a good deed was recognized and appreciated, even if it came with flaws, from a flawed human being.
I went for an exercise-walk later to work off all my good-deed steam. Low temps have lasted longer in Arizona this spring, so it’s been fun to whirl through my neighborhood—a four-limbed pinwheel of good cheer—and watch yards come to life in late May.
“Hey Tom!” I called out, barreling by a house with a man standing outside. I know his name is Tom because these folks have what looks like a gravestone in their front yard that says, “The Tom and Lisa Smith’s,” with their pictures sandblasted onto it. I’ve walked by this house a million times, Tom has been standing outside a thousand times, and I’ve dismissed the fact that the gravestone has incorrect punctuation hundreds of times. I’m over it.
Tom stared at me in silence as if he’d never seen me before. Granted, we’ve never been formally introduced, but when you have a gravestone outside your house with your name and picture etched into it, I think you need to accept the fact that people are going to make a connection between you and that name. I mean, I knew he wasn’t Lisa.
I twirled home and took sheets out of the dryer, white sheets that a loved one had slept on just the night before. They would be fresh for her when she comes the next time…another good deed. I folded them and put them into the linen closet next to my neat pile of clean towels, then crawled into the closet and hid.