Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Condolences: Best Served Silent

I was very surprised to hear about an old roommate of mine getting a divorce and was thisclose to giving her my condolences when I remembered being condoled to right after being diagnosed. It was still so new and I was still so bitter when an old man cornered me to tell me everything that had ever gone wrong in his life. He told me about surgeries and wives leaving, strange diagnoses and those being wrong and getting even stranger ones, every minor injury and ingrown toenail, how long it took to recuperate and the thickness of every cast. I couldn't get a word in; all I could do was nod and look for a way out. When he asked me if I felt better yet, I had to be honest and screech "NO!" in his deaf old ear. He said he thought that if I heard somebody else's problems it would make me feel better, but he thought dead wrong. I told my husband later that day that he (the old man) was probably just lying in wait for some one to come along to pull out his laundry list of things-gone-wrong to read to--he is probably haunting the same spot waiting for the next sorry sap to come by. Thinking about this, I decided to keep any sympathetic words to myself unless I could say them in person and say them quickly. I don't want to be the misguided old bookend to that magpie of an old man.

1 comment:

zenhead said...

i can never think of anything close to the right thing to say - it all sounds condesending. so, like you, i usually leave my comments for until -if- they are asked for.