Today, I was eating my lunch in a food court downtown. About halfway through my steak and cheese sandwich, I noticed this guy sitting two tables away from me with his head in his hands. Now normally, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it, but he sat like that for several minutes without really moving at all.
It made me start wondering. Was he sad? Was his work day going badly? Was he having a problem in his life that he didn’t think he could solve? Or did his lunch just disagree with him? He held his head in his hands for so long that I wanted to go up to him and ask him if he was all right, because while I couldn’t see his face, he looked like he was sad. Being sad is one thing, but being visibly sad in public is another – it’s usually really serious then – most people just keep their neutral faces on when they are out and about.
I debated in my head if I wanted to talk to him, tried to visualize how it would work. I didn’t want to have him actually open up about what was bugging him and have my first reply be “uh, I gotta go back to work, my lunch break is over now”. I didn’t think that was the mostly likely response, but responding that way just wouldn’t be right.
As I was getting up to leave, he finally showed his face, he just looked really tired. And that could mean anything, or nothing. I don’t know what I would have been able to do if I did ask him if he was okay. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything. But somehow, I wanted to let this person know that I noticed, and that I empathized with him and wanted to show him kindness. I imagine that would have freaked him out. Which I guess is why I ended up saying nothing.