It's Not Easy Being Mean

The issue of meanness is an important one to me, because, maybe save the French (search), it seems so pointless. I'm only kidding there, but I'm dead serious about this:

Why do some delight in being mean? Plain, nasty mean?

I was giving blood Friday morning — literally.

It was no big deal and trust me, no big response. But worse than getting poked at are the people doing the poking. They're awful. I mean, really awful.

And sadly, I guess because it's convenient to where I work, I put up with it. I put up with the attitude:

The secretary who never looks up.

The nurse who always looks down.

The blood taker's eyes that never look at me.

The mouth that never smiles at me or acknowledges me.

The icy hands that grab my arm and poke at me.

They treat patients in a lobby even worse than me.

For months now, I have wondered how the people in this place carry on.

But Friday — maybe still thinking of that poor heavyset woman that I ran into on Thursday — I finally, belatedly, maybe "mis-directedly," got a little gumption.

I asked the nurse a simple question: "Are you always so angry?"

She never looked up.

I repeated it again: "What's the deal with you?"

Actually, none of this was too smart of me — since this woman's fishing for veins to poke at and didn't she seem to poke a little longer? I didn't care.

"I dare you to smile," I said.

She never did. Not a word.

Angry and bitter and mean — oddly enough in a business that's about sustaining life and health and hope.

But not her. Not here.

I wondered not so much about the extra bit of blood that poured out of me today. But about this woman and whether she had any blood at all.

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