This cloudless, radiant Saturday afternoon, my father and I were at the mall.
My father’s phone was about to give up the ghost. So there we were walking in this wild world of the mall.
We headed into a slick shop and were met by a man wearing a slick suit. I’ll call him Steve.
My father began explaining to Steve what he was in the market for. While my father talked, Steve spun his dinner table-sized phone on the countertop. When my father finished, Steve began.
He told us what we did want and what we didn’t want. He prefaced sentences with, “What you need to understand…” and “You might not be aware, but…” In the span of seven minutes, he twice told us that he drove a new Lexus.
At one point, Steve brought out a few phones. Did you have to check those out in the back? my father asked out of curiosity. “No,” Steve said, as if he was amazed anyone would think he would have to check anything out ever.
Soon thereafter, we left the slick shop without purchasing any of the phones that Steve didn’t have to check out in the back. What a jerk, I fumed to my father. Patronizing, arrogant. Totally insufferable.
We walked off into the cloudless, radiant Saturday. But I was really burning up about Steve. Steve and his dumb suit, dumb Lexus, dumb dinner table-sized phone, thinks he’s such a big shot.
I woke up Sunday morning. I went out for a walk. And as I walked, I thought of Steve. What insufferable lame-o would broadcast their phone, car, suit so loudly?
And it occurred to me that someone who was suffering would.
Steve was clutching these status icons and using them to prove his worth. And I only knew that because I had done it so many times. Flaunted my knowledge, know-how, expensive this/that/the other to show the world I mattered, I belonged.
That Sunday morning, my heart softened towards Steve. I hope you love your phone, Lexus, suit. And, Steve, what you might not be aware of is that even without all that, you are still worthy and you still belong.
Just like me. Just like my father. Just like any of us walking around in this wild world.