My Personal Appearance May Be Declining.

For those of you who know me, that headline may not be much of a news flash. For the reader who doesn’t have any background with me, the barbarian pictured below is me.

Lotsa Cargo

Needless to say, at 6′ and 300+ pounds I’m hard to miss. With the full ZZ Top beard thing (and usually shades if I’m outdoors) I present a somewhat different/imposing appearance. Now, combine that with my beloved workout clothes – most of which look like stuff that’s a decade old because they are – and you have a guy that people want to move across the street to avoid if there are any alleyways in the general locale where our paths will cross.

The only exception to the above description is when the cross-fit members are out for their cute little group runs. Then it appears that the self-entitled deem the entire sidewalk to be theirs, and walk three-abreast, forcing me to move out of their way. (Hint to the cross-fit group I ran across this morning: tomorrow you had best move or the bruises will likely be legendary. I’m guessing my 360 pound mass travelling 8 mph toward your 140 pound mass is going to win. Move over, it’s a courtesy.)

A short time ago I was walking down University Avenue in Saint Paul on my way to work. I had my 100 liter backpack hoisted on my shoulders, and was carrying my 5’10” walking staff. I got to Dale Street, and had to wait for the light to cross. There was an older woman waiting at the corner, and I held back a bit so she wouldn’t feel that I was encroaching on her personal space.

When we both got across University, I turned to cross Dale as well. I heard a voice to my right, and looked over: it was the woman saying something to me. Turning Glenn Campbell off for a minute, I removed my earbuds and apologized for not hearing her when she spoke to me.

She pointed at the public library and said (in the most genteel voice you can possibly imagine), “Sir, if you’re looking for a job, they’re having an employment fair at the library.”

In my most disarming manner, I smiled and said, “Thank you, Ma’am, but I’m actually walking to work right now. I’m ready to retire in another year. But it’s very kind of you to help a stranger.”

She nodded and said, “Well, I just thought you might like to know.”

Now, it would be easy to judge her as a busybody talking down to some guy on the street, but that clearly wasn’t the case. Instead, this frail little woman, 1/3 of my size, and a good foot shorter than I am, had the decency to try and elevate a fellow human with an opportunity, and a vote of confidence that I’d use that information wisely.

I have wondered in the days since if I have mustered that good Christian compassion often enough. Have I extended myself to others? Do I judge and not offer help? The answer is not often enough, and yes I do judge.

That day I started looking for opportunities to lend a hand, not the back of mine, when I see a chance to elevate a stranger. (The people I already know should expect no change!) This may not apply to cross-fit walkers on West 7th street. I guess I’ll find out next time we meet.

Can you? Will you? Won’t you lend a hand to one who could use it? Not a hand-out, but a hand-up.

It won’t be easy, but I’ll keep trying.

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My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, is now available. Go fetch your credit card for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.

Audio book cover on the left, Kindle cover on the right.

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Comments

My Personal Appearance May Be Declining. — 1 Comment

  1. Always a good lesson. Especially from a sincere person.

    I vote you don’t move for the CrossFit Junkies. If they’re so bent on getting fit, they can make a big loop around you. Enough of their “entitled” infringement on the walking space.