There’s this guy…

…Oh, hey, some ground rules, first. I’m pretty human and I have my share of petty moments; it matters to me to be compassionate, to be aware that we are each having our own experience, and to do my best to be non-judgmental. I see human behavior. Being human, myself, I have some. I don’t always understand it, and liking words I often want to describe it. Today, too. So, this one is more a character study than a judgement, and I’ll do my best to attend to my phrasing. 🙂

Each of us is having our own experience.

Each of us is having our own experience.

There’s this guy I see regularly on my commute to work, in the morning. I usually see him near the coffee stand. Days when I see him, I’m struck by how much I want to ‘type-cast’ him. He has a very ‘East Coast vibe’. He also strikes me as the essence of The Perfectly Miserable Man. I feel a bit sad for him, generally, because on any given day he seems stressed to the breaking point, and entirely and completely miserable. He also conveys some other things through his discontent tone. He seems angry, disagreeable, and entitled. I wonder each time I see him what it is about life that sucks so much for him that he finds the will to be that miserable.

I’m not being mean. A day or two ago, I walked up to the coffee stand, and gave the gentleman who runs it my order, a latte. Between my words, and the barista’s reply, The Perfectly Miserable Man rushed up, inserted himself physically between me, and the counter, and barked at the barista “Do you have half and half?”. It was obvious the barista was as startled as I was, and didn’t quite hear what this other potential customer had said. He replied, courteously enough, “I’m sorry?”  The Perfectly Miserable Man doesn’t have time for polite trivialities, and went on a tirade about the intelligence of the barista, his honesty, his work skills, then turned attention to the sorry state of the world, and his own misery that he could be treated so badly by one and all. It was damned eloquent. Part of me also found it… hilarious. It was illuminating. I could see The Perfectly Miserable Man building his exquisite misery in front of me, a word at a time. Escalating emotionally in the absence of any stimulus outside his own creation – highly efficient. Sad, too, because he could choose differently, and have a very different experience.

Once the barista understood that The Perfectly Miserable Man was asking for free half and half for coffee he hadn’t purchased there – actually, he hadn’t purchased anything on that day – the barista politely, and rather graciously, apologized that he didn’t have the stock on hand to give away half and half.  The Perfectly Miserable Man wasn’t satisfied with that and flung more than offered a dollar for some half and half. The barista asked how much he wanted, still being polite, and when The Perfectly Miserable Man indicated about a tablespoon, the barista handed over the carafe of half and half.

The story doesn’t really end there. I might not have been sitting around mulling this over if it had. The Perfectly Miserable Man accepted the half and half, managing to be rude, dismissive, and confrontational about it. Then he poured about 6 ounces of half and half into an empty cup, and put it into his lunch box, for later. He crossly muttered the entire time about the service, the cream, the day, having to pay for cream as a customer, the weather, the timing of the bus, and quite a few other things it never occurred to me qualified as complaints. He doesn’t mutter quietly, either. His words are obviously intended to be heard – and any overt recognition, eye contact, change of expression, is likely to result in a more directed bit of misery. He is so completely miserable.

I don’t actually get it, and I’ve started to look for him on the way to work. Some qualities and characteristics can be difficult to study, to understand, because subtleties require some prerequisite knowledge. I’ve certainly been miserable. I’ve grown to understand how much choice is involved in that.  Growing further, and learning to make different choices and not live an experience steeped in misery is worth doing. The Perfectly Miserable Man gives me some interesting life curriculum – he works really hard at misery, and is clearly very successful at it. I don’t need to know why to appreciate the rare opportunity to see it, study it. Seriously? This guy’s misery is on a level of real craftsmanship! Without fail, every time I see him on the way to work, he is miserable, and acting on it with his will, and demonstrating it for his community… I wonder each morning that I don’t see him, if perhaps I can’t recognize him if he isn’t miserable, and I overlook him when he’s having a good day? lol.

Not judging; it sucks to see him suffer, and I want to share that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I also recognize that he’s his own being, on his own path. He gets to make his own choices. I hope he gets some good days. I appreciate that his misery is a powerful demonstration I can study from afar.

I’ve been miserable. I don’t like the feelings that are part of misery. When I am not miserable, I can see quite clearly how much will and choice go into maintaining misery. When I feel miserable, I find it very hard to make choices that free me, even when I can clearly see it is a matter of choice. Misery is some nasty shit. I definitely want to learn the skills, and build my will, to improve my ability to be resilient in the face of moments of misery. It doesn’t look like The Perfectly Miserable Man enjoys life.