Pain is a Non-Respecter of Person Issue, Part One

Pain is a Non-Respecter of Person Issue, Part One

Did you shop at Costco during the holiday season?  I did, and I want to relay something I observed on a Sunday afternoon.

Prior to entering the restroom at Costco, I was already thinking about the theme of this series of editorials, that pain is a non-respecter of person issue.  In my mind I was piecing together the thoughts of the holiday season being the most difficult time of year for a large portion of our citizenry, for a wide range of issues and the fact these difficulties come during a time that “joy and happiness,” are being sold to us and many of those who are hurting simply do their best to put on a happy face – sometimes for family, sometimes for complete strangers.

When I entered the Costco restroom, there were two impeccably dressed black men standing at the end of the long sink. I would venture to say one man was in his late sixties and one was in his late twenties.  I noticed the younger man was standing very close to the older gentleman, as he washed his hands.  When he was done washing his hands, the older gentleman led the younger man to the dryer, where he dried his hands.  When his hands were dried, the older man gently led the younger man, who was smiling, out of the bathroom – and they were on their way.  Although I observed them, we did not exchange pleasantries, which honestly is unusual for me.  Perhaps I will never see them again.  What struck me while this scene played out was that undoubtedly there had been years, perhaps decades of pain and hard work, producing this scene in a public arena.

That particular week I had been thinking a lot about the scourge of autism, which is actually a very broad spectrum of debilitative diseases.  Other than what I described to you, I know very little about this family.  I don’t know if the older man was the father, grandfather, adopted parent or simply a loving man who had made the choice to help the younger man.  Clearly, there was a connection between the two.  The older man could be trusted and the younger man, although clearly disabled, was happy and compliant.

Honestly, I don’t know how long I will remain on the subject of pain.  I am thankful for experiencing the above vignette because it highlights some other themes, in addition to pain: race, fatherhood/family, socio-economic status and worship.  Worship because I assume these men were dressed up because it was Sunday, and they chose to stop by Costco on their way home from church, like I did.

The bottom line is we live in a world full of individuals who are hurting and experiencing pain, not merely during the holidays.  I am confident that every reader, regardless of race, nationality or socio-economic background can think of someone, perhaps even a close family member, who is struggling with some type of debilitative disease, and has observed the stress it provides to the extended family as a result – and yet, they are working through it.

Pain is a non-respecter of person issue.  More next week!


Scott Cooper