Here’s a repost of a blog entry I wrote on July 15, 2018. At the time, we were visiting Dublin to see Paul Simon, James, Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt in concert. Yes, they were all performing in the same awesome show! I reread this story today, remembering our fun in Ireland, and the opportunity Bill got to right a wrong.
Like most everyone, my husband Bill has a dark side. Sometimes it comes out inappropriately. I’m usually surprised and amused when he says something egregiously shocking or mean.
Yesterday, after we had dinner and drinks at a local pub, we stopped by the Spar (Austrian mini mart) to buy some water and a bottle of wine. We’d had several beers between us and a couple of whiskies, so we were feeling no pain. As we approached the cash register, a very thin, bearded man standing behind us asked the cashier if the toilet in the store was working.
The cashier obviously lied and said, “No Mate, the toilet isn’t working. Sorry.”
As we left the store, I said, “Well… that was clearly bullshit.”
Bill responded, “Right. He probably should have said, ‘No, I don’t want you shooting up in our bathroom.'”
Just then, as we crossed the street, the guy passed us. He turned and glared at Bill, who was mortified. I don’t know if he heard Bill make that comment, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Bill had kind of blurted it out in a normal tone of voice. The toilet seeking chap did seem to send Bill a death ray with his eyes, which would make it seem like he’d heard him mock him.
It was kind of surprising that Bill was the one who made that crack. Usually I’m the one who says stuff like that. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think that guy was a drug addict, though, or even homeless. He hadn’t appeared to be homeless to my eyes. In fact, he simply looked like a working person, which Bill and I have both been in our lifetimes.
Poor Bill is wracked with guilt, though. In fact, while we were enjoying afternoon tea today, he said, “I feel awful about that comment I made. I think I’m going to donate to a homeless shelter.” Sure enough, after we finished having tea, we came back to our hotel room and he started researching charities.
So many people would have just brushed off the incident, but Bill feels the need to repent. Actually, I had the same thought that it might be a good thing to do– give to a homeless charity. Maybe it will improve our karma. I’m just glad no one whipped out a cell phone to record the incident and put it on YouTube.
This morning, as we were touring the Jameson’s Visitor’s Center, Bill was telling me how guilty he felt for making that obnoxious comment. I have felt that way before and have made comments I later regretted. Fortunately, I haven’t yet been caught on film. As current events have shown us, though, it’s not hard to be caught having a bad day, saying or doing shameful things. I know Bill isn’t a shitty person, but sometimes he does make shitty comments. Don’t we all?
One time, we were walking into the German city of Ludwigsburg and we passed an enormous piggy bank in front of a bank. The piggy bank has a name, though I can’t remember it at the moment (ETA: it’s Louise). One can go inside of it and/or drop coins in it to be donated to charity.
It was 2014 and we hadn’t yet been back in Germany for long. Bill said, “I wouldn’t want to go inside of that pig. I’d be afraid someone would close the door and turn on the gas.”
Instantly, my mouth dropped open, since we were standing there in Germany, where people had once been rounded up to be gassed in concentration camps. Bill, of course, hadn’t even thought about the concentration camps. He was thinking of some book he’d read where people were killed that way– had nothing to do with Hitler’s era. It was just a thoughtless comment, same as yesterday. When he saw my facial expression it dawned on him that what he’d said was kind of shocking and potentially offensive. It kind of revealed a dark side of a man who is usually one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know.
Almost all of us have a dark side. Some people are less ashamed of letting theirs show than others are. I don’t think Bill needs to feel guilty, though. Everybody fucks up sometimes. And most people don’t feel the need to repent afterwards. That’s what makes Bill such a special guy in my eyes.
EDITED TO ADD…
A couple of hours after I posted this, Bill and I went out into the city. The Dublin area has been experiencing a drought for the past 40 days. In fact, a significant archeological find was discovered recently thanks to the drought. The New York Times reported on it. Today, there was rain. It’s been raining all day. So after we tasted Irish whiskies, we came back to the hotel and had high tea. Then we went to our hotel room, thinking we might not go out again. But then I started to get a little hungry.
At about 6:30pm, we decided we might like to have some dinner. I really wanted a Sunday roast or prime rib or something… but as we walked around the hotel, we found a number of places closed. We thought about eating at a place that advertised tacos, but decided tacos in Ireland might be too weird. So we kept walking and I decided to turn left at the first street we encountered. I figured it would take us back toward the hotel where I knew we could get something.
Suddenly, just as we were nearing the end of the street, the same guy Bill had insulted yesterday popped into our path. Looking more closely at him, I could see that he definitely was a street person. He was very small and slender, with red hair and a beard, and obviously somewhat older than I’d originally thought he was. He looked unkempt and was missing teeth. It’s certainly possible he abuses drugs, but I can’t know for sure. His appearance could be just as easily due to hard times or some other illness. I don’t know if he recognized Bill, but Bill definitely recognized him.
He said, “Do you have any spare change so I can get some coffee?”
Bill said, without any hesitation, “Yes, I do.” And he pulled almost all of the change out of his pocket… about ten euros worth. He said something had told him to carry it with him, while it was I who had decided to turn on that quiet street near our hotel. We could have just as easily skipped dinner or had it at the hotel or the taco place. But fate put us in the path of the guy Bill had insulted yesterday.
The guy was shocked as Bill gave him the change and the guy said, “God bless you,” as he accepted it.
As we walked away, Bill’s eyes got teary and he started to look like Michael Landon during one of his more emotional scenes on either Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven. And then, as if things couldn’t get any more touching, there was a restaurant right in front of us specializing in beef dishes. We stopped in and had a very nice dinner, topped off by a final nightcap in the hotel bar before we head back to Germany tomorrow.
Maybe this story means nothing to many people. I have a weird knack for running into people, though. I always have. And Bill is a very perceptive and sensitive guy whose superego has a tendency to run amok. It’s entirely possible that guy hadn’t even heard Bill’s snarky remarks yesterday, but I think both he and Bill ended up coming out winners in this situation.
Bill still intends to donate to a charity, too. I think this trip will go down as one of our very best and most memorable. I’m looking forward to writing it up, starting tomorrow evening.