Don’t be so quick to judge others

Chelsey Fattal / Times-News correspondent

   While I was working at Columbia Sportswear, an older woman approached me with a melancholy look on her face. She was trudging along the aisles with the assistance of a rolling walker as she looked at me and asked for a dressing room. Remembering that I had been working a long eight-hour shift, I was tired of being on my feet and honestly, I did not feel like opening another fitting room. To make matters worse, the woman did not look inviting or appreciative to any extent of the help I was offering.
However, I heard my manager’s voice in the back of my mind and I knew that, perhaps, this lady needed a genuine smile and a friendly gesture from a stranger who required nothing from her. With that, I mustered up my ill feelings and opened the fitting room. The fragile woman stumbled into the dressing room and came out after 20 minutes. I stood next to the mirror and told her how fabulous she looked, to which she scoffed and disregarded the comment quicker than she could walk. I asked her why she did not feel beautiful or see the resplendent wisdom that she resonated at her age of great experience. Believing that she was a typical woman, complaining about her weight and disbelieving her beauty, I watched a tear dribble down her cheek. She negatively remarked about her weight and the difficulty of finding clothes that fit her adequately.
I asked if she was OK and I did not expect her to quickly reply that she hasn’t been the same since having breast cancer. I felt my heart sink because of the horrible things that I thought before knowing her circumstances. The woman intrepidly discussed her chemotherapy and how the process has made her body weight fluctuate and has never been the same since. Admiring this elderly lady, I appreciated her battle and knew that her journey is one that many could not endure.
“My name is Janet and I thank you for your time,” she said as she wiped away a tear. Before exiting, “Janet” unexpectedly turned toward me and gave me a hug. One thought resonated and it was that God presented me with an example of love — loving others in spite of our exasperations, because what if you miss your chance at being surprised?
If we ignore our self-consumed thoughts, we can decide to open the “fitting room” for a person in need of our assistance. Maybe if you decide to open the door for a perturbed elderly woman, you just might meet your own “Janet.”

Chelsey Fattal is a second semester sophomore at Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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