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.


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.

The Lightning Notes is funded by kind donors. If something here strikes you, I'd be grateful if you'd consider donating. Click to Donate!

Belonging, FocusCaitie Whelan