Note to self: you can’t know what people are going through, so try to be less judgemental. I had this minor altercation on the bus today that really drove this home. Basically, I was getting off the bus and this woman pushed past me while I was still coming down the steps, causing me to lose my footing. I let her have it with a few choice curse words, delivered in what I thought was a fairly mild way relative to her rudeness.
Well, she immediately burst into tears, so I got back onto the bus to try and calm her down. I’m not sure why I did it, really, since I was still pretty annoyed, but everyone else was pretending not to notice so I felt bad. Anyway, I eventually managed to prise out of her that her father had had a severe stroke the week before, and she was rushing to get to a meeting with a distributor of a medical device that might help minimise the damage.
Her behaviour made a bit more sense after that. I do maintain that she needed to slow down; rushing around like a headless chicken and getting into pedestrian collisions isn’t going to help anyone in this situation. But I stopped feeling annoyed, and instead wanted to know what the device in question was – after all, many of us have been affected by strokes among family members, and maybe this technology is worth knowing about.
It turned out that she was talking about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which I vaguely recall hearing about on a podcast – I think they said that stroke damage was a possible application, but one for which the effectiveness hasn’t been scientifically established. According to this woman, you can buy portable hyperbaric chambers that let you administer the treatment at home, rather than shell out tens of thousands every few months to have it done at a clinic.
Point is, there was clearly a lot on her mind that I had no idea about prior to making a deliberate effort to understand.