Pink electric toothbrush

Pink Electric Toothbrush

“So, do you want an electric toothbrush?” Sarah proffered the pink and white device before me.

My ever efficient flatmate Sarah is moving out. Not only is she moving out but she’s getting married and leaving the country to live with her new husband in India. Yes, that’s right: India. Since she’s leaving New Zealand she’s been diligently getting rid of her things, selling them, giving them to me, or just throwing them away.

And now it came down to her pink electric toothbrush. Her parents got her that toothbrush for her birthday a very long time ago. She hasn’t used it in years but in all the time I’ve known her that tooth brush has sat resolutely on the bathroom sink. Four different flats, if memory serves.

I drew her into a hug and started sobbing uncontrollably on her shoulder. I guess it hit home hard this time: I was blindsided.

Continue reading Pink electric toothbrush

A small blessing

The caller ID displayed “private”. I tried not to sigh out loud. Only one person I know has a private number.

“Hi Stephen”

It was J (not his real name). J is one of those people who only ever calls when he needs a favour. One of those people who never seems to call wanting to buy me a coffee or to ask about my day, just that he needs a favour and the other 4 people he called before he got to me were too busy.

“Hi, J” I tried to be up-beat “how are you?” My theory is that J is lonely but doesn’t know how to just be friends with someone. He’s so used to asking for help that he doesn’t know how to just ring up and have a conversation, he needs to ask for something.

“Well” I hear the panic rise in his voice as he remembers the problem “you see my microwave broke down today, just the most awful luck, I turned it on this morning and black smoke came out the back, it’s just dreadful and I was wondering if you could take me to St. Luke’s to get a new one?”

“Sure” I responded encouragingly. I do try to help him when his requests are reasonable. That means that when he’s being unreasonable, I don’t feel guilty saying “no”.

He txted me a number of times during the day to just check and triple check the time. I was late picking him up as a friend on Facebook started up a conversation just before I left. To be honest I wasn’t too enthused about the whole exercise. I often find myself doing favours for J and he’s the sort who will try to up the ante.

We made our way to the Briscoes. It was a hot day, I parked in the shade while he went to do his purchase. No doubt it would be on special, he likes getting a good deal. I refused to join him in the shop ever since the time he got me to help him buy a bucket chair and I then had to help him argue with the staff as well.

Pleased with himself, J placed the microwave in the back seat.

“You’ll never guess how much that was!” he declared excitedly.
“I have no idea, J, please tell me”. I said in my most patronising tone.

I guess part of me resented having to take up my afternoon helping him in the first place. I am very sensitive to the fact that I am a people pleaser, compliant. I like to make people happy and so if someone asks something of me: a favour, a car ride, a loan, I am only too keen to help. I end up doing a lot of favours for people like J and I always get that sinking feeling that I am being taken advantage of.

We talked about his day, his plans, his health we made comment on the weather and then he started digging into my personal life.

“No, J, I am not talking about that”

It’s one of the boundaries I have put in place. J has a tendency to ask just one more personal question to the point where he starts talking about things even I am uncomfortable talking about. Because of this I’ve just drawn a firm line on personal things. He persisted again and again and so in frustration I just stopped replying. We sat in the car in awkward silence for the rest of the ride back to his apartment.

“Well, have a good afternoon J and enjoy your new microwave” I tried to be cheerful.
“Oh, you will forgive me won’t you, Stephen?”
“Of course, J, already forgotten”
“Will you help carry this up, it’s heavy”

Another boundary. I know that if I ever agree to come up to J’s apartment I will be required to rewire his sound system and teach him how to use his TV remote.

“Oh, ok, well have a good day” with that he walked off, his microwave in his arms.

As I drove away I sighed, watching him carry his microwave back to his apartment in his skinny arms.

“God, please bless J” I prayed quietly to myself. It’s a thing I do. I do it all the time for people I am concerned about and let’s face it, there’s a lot to be concerned about for J.

The answer came pretty much immediately to my mind:
“You were my blessing for him today”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Religious nonsense. Certainly it may be, but even if you’re not a religious person you can’t overlook the fact that at that very moment, it dawned on me that I was quite possibly the very best thing to happen to J the whole day, Maybe even the whole week.

And you know what? I felt ashamed. What a small weak pitiful blessing I must be. I could have been kinder, nicer, more encouraging and friendly.

No matter whether you’re religious or not, at every moment in your life, you have an opportunity to be a blessing to others. You may be the best thing to happen to the next person you meet. Will you make the most of that opportunity? I hope I do.