Checking Our Own Bags

One night in college, I was at the library. I'd come right from working out, found a spot at a big table, and started in on some writing.

Shortly, a guy in sweats sat down at the big table. I smiled at him, then reached down to open my bag and get a pen. The guy took out a book and started reading.

Everything was fine until I noticed it. And once I noticed it, I couldn't un-notice it. It was the stench of sweaty socks.

Geez, I silently implored the guy, couldn't you have done us all the courtesy of changing those Stinky McStinkersons?

The stench rose and rose. I cleared my throat, shifted in my chair, gave some classic passive aggressive signs of annoyance. But the guy just sat there reading.

And then it became too much. I couldn't write, focus, pretend this heinous odor wasn't stinking up the joint.

I leaned over to drop my stuff into my bag and decamp for more fragrant terrain. Which was when I noticed that there in my open bag was a pair of thoroughly sweaty socks I'd taken off after working out.

Oh.

I looked across the table. The guy just sat there reading. I offered him a silent, sheepish apology.

And since then, I've never once falsely accused anyone of anything. I always take into account my own actions. I don't blame, judge, criticize. I treat one and all with a boundless generosity of spirit that some say is Buddha-esque. I also make huge, anonymous donations to noble causes and spend my Saturday mornings picking up trash and rescuing kittens from dumpsters.

Well, that's not precisely true.

But I have made more of an effort to check my own bag before blaming the person across the table from me.

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