I wanted to write about how bitterness and resentment can often drive sickness and depression. But it was such a great story and reflection, I ended up looking at the irony of people who really need help, but have been trained through life’s journey, and acquired a great skill in keeping help at bay.
I’ll get to that bitterness thing….
What It Looks Like
We were into our day at Margaret Court Community Outreach, MCCO. I’m just another helper in the team. Our customers, at our site, will number about 150 between 1000am and 1500pm, five hours. Their credentials are a Centrelink card. They come for a free trolley load of food — we give out whatever the suppliers donate — it is a significant quantity and range and we bless them for it. They say it comes to about 35 tonnes of food a week, which includes two other sites for distribution.
The exit is a door opening outwards. It is common for people to come on foot — might be local, or might have emerged from the train three blocks away, or perhaps buses. So they pack as much as they can carry in whatever bags they can muster. These are hard times for them, and unique individual stories are shared of despairing lives.
Who’s the Innocent Party? Who’s the Victim?
So this couple have gone quietly through the system (I think quietly) until they are outside, packing their allocation. Maybe in their forties. Tough life on show. Inside, a frail old guy, not with full faculty, opens the door to exit — it’s difficult because it’s a big trolley, and the spring return tries to close the door jamming the trolley. The door opens outwards on regular hinges, no window. The door smacks into the lady of the couple. She ignites. The boyfriend adds fuel. The old man reels. Thankfully, he didn’t talk back. The atmosphere is dark.
This lady unloads a deluge of anger, bitterness and fear on the old man for whacking her in her back with the door. She moves the monologue loudly on to the general state of the nation and its stupid people, which doesn’t include her. She successfully keeps this anger, and monologue, going for the ten or fifteen minutes it takes to pack her own stuff, and the whole of the walk up the street to the main road. You can hear it a block away. Have a smoke on the way. The man was looking for the fight with the old man, but thankfully, the old man knows to keep his head down. He’s been here before too.
Trained in Stinking Thinking
This lady, and her boyfriend — they are not dumb. The have a learned a thing or two. Some of those things need unlearning. They don’t even know it. It will catch up on them. It has caught up on them. This pent up energy, highly tuned and trained in the self help groups of their social ties, has already and will continue to destroy relationships. It breaks up families, causes sicknesses, alienates them from the help and the good will of society that they really need. They don’t know how to receive a gift graciously. They don’t know how to help a gift to be given. They believe they have a right to that free gift. They are not going to escape their entrapment. Life will continue in the depravity of the cards of life which have been dealt to them thus far. They don’t know how to play their cards. They don’t know how to get a re-deal, change some cards. Ante up!! You’re in the game already. Play!!
The Stinking Thinking Snare
What did she do? Our angry lady put herself in the line of fire. She did not need to stand and pack right where the door swings open. And in the ten or fifteen minutes that she was packing, a number of people used that door — including herself. Even if you are a first timer, danger is in plain sight. She invites disaster. And she is prepared for the emerging theatre, where she can draw a crowd, call out to the world, her situation, the unfairness, the stupid people that live around her, the victim that she has become and how proud she is of it. When the door hits her, she has her soap box to stand and preach. She fires off a tirade. Justification.
Our lady did not win friends. Those around are also in need. That’s why they are here. They try to avoid confrontation — not least because the boy friend is sized, and looks threatening enough, to initiate violence if given the chance with anything resembling weak and frail. He won’t go public without excuse, but he would like to release some anger too. When our lady leaves… then there are the comments about how stupid she was to stand there in the first place. People can see it. They understand the irony. But it’s hard to move on what they see.
A Sad State of Affairs
So life goes on. Things didn’t get fixed this day. Budget prevents the door being re-designed and re-constructed. People (they are rare thankfully) still come in fueled, energized, practiced in complaint and theatre to give themselves presence. They build identity within it. An old man got a very close shave of verbal assault looking for violence — which wasn’t really his fault, even though he triggered it. A lady and her boyfriend were vindicated, righteous, justified that their resentment was valid, and they are stars in their own world. They’ll do it again, and again, and again….