The knock was so soft that I was convinced it was all in my imagination. Then, my doorbell chimed.
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was not expecting anyone. I learned long ago when I moved out and lived alone not to open my door unless I was expecting someone. Curiosity got the better and best of me. I crept to the door and asked: “Who’s there?”
To my surprise, the voice behind the door was a woman who was a friend of a neighbor. I had only mumbled niceties of “Hi” and “How are you?” to this woman, but never even had a conversation with her. What could she be doing at my door? I tentatively opened the door wider and let her in.
With wide and eager brown eyes and iron straight brown hair, she shared with me that she had lost her job and was looking for work—any kind of work. She also shared with me that it was only a matter of time that she would be homeless and have to find another place to crash at. I could feel and read the desperation in her eyes when she said: “These are hard times. And, everything is so expensive. I will do anything I can for work and to make ends meet, as long as it is honest to good work.”
There are very few times in my life that I was left speechless. This was one of them. I weakly suggested work ideas and took her number, promising that I would call her if I could think of anything. I felt helpless when she turned her back to me with her chin held high, determined that she was going to figure out something, or, really, anything to make ends meet.
This uninvited visit from this woman was a wake-up call after these past few stressful months I had with household issues, specifically water problems. The first water incident happened in February when the faucet broke and all the water collected and finally burst releasing a miniature flood from my kitchen cabinet with the absolute inability to stop the water and the requirement for two maintenance men to come and try to stop my wooden kitchen floors from splitting from the water damage. The second water incident was from faulty bathtub pipes and drainage that caused water to drip and dribble from the ceiling alongside the wall that was right above an electrical outlet from the unit above mine.
Water had always been a theme in my life. When I was stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or angry, I wiggled my body into my swim suit, snapped a glossy swim cap on my head, slapped goggles on my face, and plunged into the water—a very special world that I could disappear to for a little while. It was when I was underwater that I was literally bathed in tranquility and somehow managed to come up with my greatest solutions to my problems. Water had also always done great damage and caused even greater nerves in me. I do not do well with household issues. Probably because I massively suck at them. It does not help that I just panic as my first response to any household problems. In both water incidents, the problems were eventually fixed, but left me upset and complaining that the paint color to the ceiling did not match with the original paint color. As a friend said to me when I griped about the mismatched paint colors, “Mary, mismatched paint colors are first world problems. Be happy you have a roof over your head.”
This unexpected visit from this woman and my friend’s echoing words of ‘first world problems’ was an awakening. While I was complaining about mismatched paint, this woman was fighting to find work and a roof over her head. It made me think about our worlds, our lives, and our problems. I have to admit that sometimes I hear people’s problems about what I see as rather superficial matters what I think mean absolutely nothing, scoffing in my head ‘wow, that’s this person’s problem?? I would want that problem!” Meanwhile, that problem means everything and as the worst problem ever to the other person who is complaining about it. We get so wrapped up in our worlds, our lives, and our problems that we forget that there is ALWAYS someone who has it worst. You may think you have all or the worst problems, but there may be someone else out there who would do anything to have your problems rather than their own problems. There will always be someone else hemming and hawing about their problems that are only first world problems, rather than third world problems.
I write about our world filled with problems that we may see as the worst, but there may be someone who actually wants your problems over their problems. Do you ever get so wrapped up in your world of woes and problems that you end up thinking that you have the worst of problems? Do you ever think that ‘it could be better’ or ‘it could be worse’? Have you ever stopped and thought ‘wow, I’m so glad that I do not have that person’s problems’ or ‘man, they think they have it bad?? If only they knew what I was going through!” Can you ever step out from your world of problems and see other’s problems? What are your latest problems?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,