Tuesday, March 01, 2005

:: Heel: A dishonorable man; a cad ::

Man, what a heel I've been.

I went to the magazine office Monday last week, fuming inside because of yet another delay in my magazine's pre-production schedule. One other magazine in our stable was delayed, and I got hit by the domino effect. Two of the three layout artists that were supposed to have been working with me since the 15th were still working on the other magazine, with no firm end in sight. When I talked to the editor in chief at the beginning of the month to ask, nicely, that the artists be free by the 15th, he gave me a nod. Last Monday was already the 20th. Sigh.

I was already on the receiving end of a nasty surprise from the same person last month, and in my mind I had set him up as a voodoo doll into which I pinned one criticism after another.

Then reality slapped me in the face. Just before I left the office, the publisher whispered to me that the other guy’s mother died the night before. Of cancer. She had been in the hospital three weeks and had been sent home a few days ago because there was nothing more the doctors could do for her at the hospital.

I felt like melting and seeping through the tiny cracks in the vinyl floor right there and then. I was ashamed of how cruel and unkind I had been, even if only in thoughts and a few snide remarks to a handful of people,

I looked at the other guy again, and understood—or at least I imagined I did—the reason for his spaced out look, his lackadaisical approach to deadlines, his difficulties in concentrating on his work. He was no longer the one-dimensional cardboard character—a man overly quick to promise but frustratingly slow to deliver—I ranted about to a few close friends, but a man with a recently deceased mother, a widower father, and three other siblings who would mourn the loss of their mother for some time to come.

I walked over to him and offerred my condolences. I went to the wake the next day, where I met his father. He was, to my surprise, in good spirits, and behaved as if he were welcoming old friends to an intimate dinner at home instead of to his wife's wake. I sensed a strong faith in him, one that prepared him to accept her death with serenity instead of insecurity.

I went to the funeral mass, a quick and unemotional affair. I was impressed by the calmness of the family members throughout the whole thing.

I was silent the entire cab ride back to the office, feeling like a heel for so quick to judge and dismiss someone because of some slight that I'd suffered at his hands. It's hard to say 'never again' but I will certainly try.


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