What is the single most revealing thing about a person?
I was recently sitting in a doctors office waiting for an appointment. A man approached the reception desk with no shirt on, using it as a sling around his leg.
He was sweating profusely and he stunk. He was dirty. He looked like a bum. He was pleading with the receptionist to get a doctor to see him because he didnt have any pain pills.
The receptionist and I smirked at eachother and the waiting room all shot eachother a knowing glance.. As if we were all thinking “oh brother”
The receptionist patronizingly explained that he would have to make an appointment and the doctor was too busy to renew his prescription. She refused to ask. I felt like rolling my eyes at this man. I mean HELLO DUDE make an appointment and for god sakes put on a shirt and have some self respect. He disgusted me.
At that moment the man dropped to the floor and looked up at the sky. He started to weep. I mean REALLY WEEP. I will never forget what he said.
He said ” just take everything. I have nothing left. Nothing but pain. Nothing. You’ve taken it all.. Just take me. I’m tired! I’m tired! I’m so tired.. What do I have? Nothing but pain..”
I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I was covered in goosebumps. I felt so much shame.. So much shame in who I was.
I looked at the receptionist as she called security and Turned from him. I looked around as people started snickering and smirking at me .. Disgusted that I had been one of them.
I can’t tell you how I found the courage, but I got up and I went over to him. I got down on the floor and to the shock of everyone, especially myself, I put my arms around his sweaty body and held him close.. And I didn’t let go. I held him and I told him that everything would be alright. I told him that I cared about him and that I was so sorry.
He went limp and cried in my arms in front of everyone until the security guard came.
As he was leaving he looked into my eyes and we connected. It was the most real and deepest compassion I have ever felt for another person.
I knew that that man had not been touched, comforted, or treated with respect for what could have been years. He was living in poverty, with nothing in his life but his addiction to pain pills and his medical problems.
This was a grown man at the end of his pitiful rope. A Person just like me with a heart and a soul. And I judged him. I laughed at him.. In the lowest part of his life.. When he had lost all hope and all self respect.
I learned that day that the measure of a person is not their success or accomplishments.. Not their intelligence or charm or appearance, but how they treat the least of all men.