If I only knew now what I knew then
By: By Trish Hoskin
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 06:00 am
Way back when, I worked at McDonald’s. At the time, employees were allowed to eat the leftover food at the end of the day so there I was in drive-through, chowing down on stale chicken nuggets when a guy pulled up to the window.
I opened it up with the customary “very sorry” look on my face as I’d been trained, and said with a mouthful of chicken, “Hi sir, sorry but we’re closed.” From his Porsche he said, “Yes but I haven’t eaten today. I’m starving. Is there anything at all you can sell me? Any old food left?” It was after 11 p.m. and this dude was hungry.
Again, I gave him the sympathy face and said, “No, sorry. We just can’t. The food might be bad.” He pleaded more and I refused more and finally he shouted, “Fine! Well… enjoy your dinner then!” I smiled brightly, cheered him with a nugget and said, “Thank you sir! I will!” He peeled out of drive through shaking his fist and I thought to myself that more customers should be as nice as him.
It wasn’t until years later that I understood what had really happened.
Another time, while teaching in Alberta’s bitter and isolated north, I had got into a little misunderstanding with another staff member. I thought we’d worked it out, but apparently we hadn’t. The night after I dyed my hair red (not a good colour on my ruddy complexion), she came into my classroom with payback on the brain.
She stood in front of my students and told them how dangerous it is to dye one’s hair; how there are all kinds of cancer-causing chemicals in it, that she’d never do it, and that anyone who does that sort of thing is a fool. I stood back in that classroom and I tell you, I had no clue what was going on. I thought, “Well that’s pretty weird. I don’t know why she’s telling them that. I mean, surely she can see that I just dyed my hair last night. Plus she’s a smoker. Why isn’t she lecturing them on that? Oh well.” Again, pure oblivion.
Within about the last 10 years, however, various life events have changed me. I look back on my naďveté and feel sad it’s gone. Instead of automatically trusting the best in people and situations, I am wary and careful. Sometimes, I walk in fear and believe the worst.
But my smart friend, Tina, said something I’ll always remember. She said, “Trish, I don’t see shadows where there aren’t any.” I love this idea, but I think it takes time, courage and insight to really understand it. So for now, I’m staying away from chicken nuggets and red hair and doing my best to shine light on the dark spaces in my life.
For now, I’m working with all that I know now, but wish I didn’t.