Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's All a Matter of Where You're Standing

So, I'm at a dear friend's house in Houston and the door bell rings.
My friend is upstairs and I figure it's okay for me to answer the door because some mutual friends are coming over and it would be logical for them to be the ones at the door, right?
But no, it's a girl scout.  A cute little, probably eight-year-old, black girl with the quintesential braids and barettes wearing a little green vest-y uniform.  And she looks at me with these big brown eyes, smiles beguilingly, introduces herself, and gives me the spiel about girl-scout cookies.
Of course I tell her I'm not the one who lives here and run upstairs to consult with the one who does. 
She says they've already bought some cookies.
So I go back to the door and tell the little girl that the people who live here have already bought cookies.
Side note - my mind decides to take the opportunity at the most absurd times to switch into "professional Esther" mode, so I end my little monologue to the girl scout with "Have a good day" as if I'm speaking to someone over the phone while I'm at work or something.
Girl Scout says "Okay" and turns to walk back to her mother's car.
Suddenly I decide that "Have a good day" is not the best way to end a conversation with a tiny person, so I say "Good Luck!" in my most cheerful voice.
She stops, turns with her braids swinging around, flashes me an enormous smile, says "Thanks!" and proceeds to skip down the walk, skirt and braids swinging.

She was just so cute that I felt sad we hadn't bought any cookies from her.  I would have bought some myself if I had been at my own house.  Now you may call me ridiculous if you like, but I really felt terrible for not buying any cookies from her.  It felt kind of like I'd taken something wonderful away from her.
(Haha, perhaps this is not wise.  I might or might not be revealing to the entire world that I can be easily guilt-tripped into anything.  Hmmmm.)
Then, when I'd made it back into the house, another friend looked at me and said "Esther, you were so nice!  I would have just said 'No Thanks' and shut the door immediately."  Now I know the dear friend who said that and I know that if she had seen that angel face at her door, she wouldn't have actually done what she said.
But she didn't see her.
Where she was standing, she couldn't see the eager eyes which not only looked up at me, but which looked into the house and saw "big girls" all over the place curling their hair and painting their toe-nails, obviously having a big girl party that the tiny one wanted to be a part of.  She couldn't see that genuine smile and those hands already half stretched toward me with the order form.  Where she was standing, she probably only heard my voice because the tiny one had a tiny voice to match herself.

And that's when it hit me.
I saw the situation one way because I was standing in full view of everything.  My friend upstairs saw it another way because she couldn't see or hear anything.  My friend downstairs saw it another way because she only heard tidbits and didn't see anything.
It's all a matter of where you're standing.

PS - Don't worry.  If two dozen girl scouts came to my door in a row, I wouldn't buy cookies from every single one.  And if some one smiled sweetly and asked me to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, I wouldn't do it.
Maybe I'm not so easily guilt-tripped after all.

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