I've always been pretty lousy at making people feel better when they are depressed. Part of it has to do with the fact that some people seem to enjoy the eternal state of sadness as they believe it brings attention to them: "look at me, I am so miserable!" and love every one of us that feels pity and sympathy for them. These people's real problem ain't much the dilemma they share with you, but the way they go about to get attention from others. Not sure about you, but when you tell me that your grandfather is about to kick the bucket for the nth time, and he's still chugging along fine for the past two years, you secretly start to wish that sweet ol' granpa gets creamed by a bus. At least you'll have something serious and real for once to whine about and I get to say "hey, shit happens".
The other reason is also, what can you say to someone that has been experiencing real life traumas? I mean, I don't think I can make them feel any better by saying to someone who just lost both parents, is in debt up to their ears and kicked out of their house "well, shit happens, make the best out of it". They will kill me. No kidding shit happens. But I suppose just being left alone or listened helps them, somewhat.
The other day I was at work. It had been a long, hard day, and I was eagerly awaiting the last 15 minutes of my shift so I could get the hell out of there and enjoy what was left of the day to do something creative. Or at least, that's the theory, as when you get home and you relax, the last thing you want to do is get dressed and go out again.
In the aisle I was standing in, making sure everything was in order for the next day, walks in Sandra. Sandra is a young cashier that recently started working at the store, and since her sister works there, she got the job without any problems. Sandra, au contraire of her sister, is one of those young girls that will make you look twice and you feel yourself saying "wooah, down boy - slap slap slap". She is also only sixteen.
Which brings me to a point: when I went to high school, girls in my class who were 16 years old looked and behaved as if they were 16 years old. Nowadays, I'm not sure if the girl I am staring at is 16 or 26. You can't tell. You go out to a club, start dancing with someone and the next thing you know, the 25 years old you were body rubbing with could be your daughter.
Sandra surely doesn't look sixteen.
So I see her staring at me at the end of the aisle with a sad look on her face.
"Hey, Sandra, what's the sad look on your face for?"
Not a word. She just walks closer and tears are going down from her eyes as if someone left a faucet open inside her head. I wipe the tears off her face thinking "well, maybe I shouldn't have done that, God only knows where my hands have been all day". At least that was the general idea of my thought, as the next thing I know she's hugging me and crying.
Was this anyone else I work with and that I know quite well, I wouldn't mind, but as far as I was concerned, the most Sandra and I have said to each other has been "Hi Lord Lansdowne!" to which I reply with a "Hey." and of course whatever question she has in regards to prices or backorders from the warehouse. Not exactly what I'd call stimulating conversation.
I am not even holding her. My hands are apart as if I was Jesus re-incarnated blessing his disciples.
"What's wrong?" I hear myself say.
"My daddy had a heart attack! And this is probably the last one his weak heart can handle!"
Well, that's terrible. Or at least, it must be. For some reason I am not much shocked of the heart attack per se, but the fact that she's hugging me and crying on my chest. I also felt the need to say something to reassure her, with the hopes she'd let go of me, nobody saw us and the cops wouldn't come and arrest me for indecency with a minor the next morning.
"Well, don't worry, things are going to get better!" I said.
Had I purposely been thinking hard to say something retarded, I never would've said something that stupid.
"Y-you really think so?" was her muffled reply of her face pressed against my chest.
"Yes, of course! I mean, he's uh.. weak at the moment and so.. uh.. he needs to relax.. you just have to be there and help him until he gets better and he'll be as strong as a horse again!". Right.
Suddenly I began to worry about her face being pressed against my chest. I had been working for 9 hours straight that day, and since one of the freezers had died on us, we had to do one of our typical "toss the box" game. Basically a row of guys throwing boxes from one end to another so that nothing melted. And when you do stuff like this, you sweat.
So for sure I didn't smell pretty. "Why does she insist on keeping her face pressed against my chest? I must smell terrible! Never mind her father!"
I know, shame on me. But honestly that was the line of thought that was going through my head. I wasn't really concerned with her dad being on the verge of death and the trauma she might experience being orphan of a father at such young age. I was worried about my clothes drenched in sweat.
Finally I found the courage to grab her shoulders and gently pull her away from me. I said to her "life is shit and it doesn't matter how unfair or shitty it seems, it is up to us to make the best of it. If this is happening, there must be a reason which we can't understand. Go, be with him, help him, and make sure he gets better, as bad things come and go". To me it seemed like the biggest pile of shit I could've ever said. I was waiting for her to say "oh, fuck off!" but instead she smiled, thanked me for being so supportive, hugged me again, and left.
I watched her hop away with one thought in my head: "only sixteen".