Handwashing and Kindness Glands

Handwashing and Kindness Glands


This sign hangs in my bathroom above the towel rack.

It’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever bought from the décor aisle.

It’s also quite possible that this bit of wood and paint has kept me from hitting “send” too soon. Or Googling lawyers for various and sundry reasons. Or from community service.

After this awful last couple of years of people being downright horrible to each other, a “be kind” wave has swept social media posts, t-shirts, and restaurant marquees as a reminder to, well, be a decent human.

(I think it’s generally depressing that we have to be reminded to be kind, but I digress since, clearly, I need reminding…)

And we all should be decent humans. Unless you’re a muse or a cat, it’s only right. Muses and cats have their own set of demeanor rules, and no amount of “Don’t be a turd” signs would ever course-correct their impending interactions.

And I can be naturally kind (you know, when you’re being sweet without having to put your mental energy on high throttle to be sweet). But, in instances when I’ve had no alone time to recharge, in instances when those around me are all being, well, turds, or in instances when life chaos has sucked me dry, I must dig deep into the will power to keep my cynical, pessimistic, smart-mouthed attitude in check.

Those “Be Kind” reminders are sweet. But I’m a hardhead most of the time, and I need a little more than a gentle nudge to course-correct. I need boulders and neon and to be told as many times as I wash my hands in a day not to be a turd.

Just don’t. Be a turd.

And then I can exit the bathroom into the “real world,” take a breath and try again to steer clear of turd-classified behavior.

I have friends who ooze mercy, grace, and kindness. They would never need a “Don’t be a turd” sign in their bathrooms. I enjoy their company. Over the years, I’ve tried to learn how they do it. How do they remain so… nice… even when those around them are clearly selfish, clueless creatures. I’ve concluded they were born with an organ that I wasn’t. You know, like some people have an extra kidney or a third nipple.

They have an overactive kindness gland somewhere in their being, whereas I must manufacture and replenish my kindness stash daily.

I have other friends who would never need a sign like mine. Because their signs read “Be the Best Turd You Can Be.” I also enjoy their company because I can relate to their pessimistic, cynical view of the world, and I envy (just a little bit) that they’ve lost that “I wonder what people think of me” filter. They say it like it is and let the cards fall wherever.

I land somewhere in the middle of these groups most days, landing firmly in the second during times of crisis (we’ve been in a crisis of one sort or another for over a year) or times when I haven’t filled my cup with “me time” to write with reckless abandon.

And, most days, as I’m washing my hands and reading my sign, I can reset. Wrangle up a few more drops of kindness, or at least tolerance, and go about the day. Put a lid on the cynicism, pessimism, and expect-the-worst mentality.

Other days, I’m tempted to Xerox that bad boy and plaster the anti-turd message on every wall of the house.

Carpet the floors with it too. Because my wildly swinging mood and snarky opinions matter very little in the grand scheme of eternal significance.

I’ve had multiple interruptions while writing this.

Little Miss Muse nagging me about word counts. Cats smelling bad. He-who-shall-remain-nameless-because-he-means-well. Cats with ping-pong balls. He-AGAIN-with-one-of-those-kindness-glands-I-lack.

I can feel that spot where my kindness gland should’ve grown. The void is red-hot along the edges and hollow to the core.

I think it’s time to go wash my hands.


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