Monday, January 10, 2011

What You Didn't Think About

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote a letter to a yid. That letter was a joyous one. I was proud to write it, proud to have wittnessed it, proud to consider that man my "brother."

Today I have a completely different letter to write. I don't want to write it. I don't want to call attention to the wrongful act I saw commited last night. But, once again, I bore witness to the "other side" of an action that was commited by a fellow yid. Only this time I am not proud to call him that. This time I am writing to publicise what he did, only in the hopes that perhaps one other yid will think before they do something like this.

Dear Yid,

I know it was a cold and snowy night. I was armed with warm boots, warm coat and warm gloves, and still the treck from my parking spot to the entrance of the rest area on the Garden State Parkway was frigid and miserable. I understand wanting to park closer to the door. But I would have never actually entertained thoughts of doing it.

And yet, there I was, approaching the door, and I saw the sight I wished I hadn't. But even if I had walked in two or three minutes later, it would have effected me. You see, when you parked next to the door, rather than in a legal spot, you weren't just risking a ticket. You were angering the lady who works there, who witnessed you pulling up. You were in a haste to get out of the cold, so you missed her reaction, but I didn't.

"Must be handicapped," she declared.

I looked at your hastily retreating back, and then at her rolling eyes, and I could practically feel the scorn. Her eyes then turned to me, and the blame reflected in them was obvious. Her eyes were talking. They were screaming at me, "you Jews. Why don't you follow the rules." It was at that moment that I wished you didn't have a big black yarmulka perched on your head, that you didn't have a pair of tzitzis dangling behind you, that you didn't look so Jewish. But you did, and so do I, and so the blame for this incident fell on not only your shoulders, but on mine, and every other (religious) Jew in the world.
It's a tough job, being an embassidor to the Jewish nation, to our G-d, but every time you don that yarmulka or dress like a religious Jew, you take that responsibility onto your shoulders. And tonight, as you parked illegally, without thinking about how others would react, about who would see you, you took that responsibility and threw it away. For what? For a few seconds of warmth?

I walked past that woman, feeling her eyes on me as I went. When I came out, she still stood there, at the door. And your car still sat there, illegally, at the curb. And her eyes still spoke volumes.

Her glare followed me to my car. The entire time that I walked through the cold snowy ground, the very same walk you saw fit to avoid, I thought about the ramifications of your actions. It might seem petty, but to her it wasn't. She witnessed hundreds of cars pull up, park in an ordinary spot, and walk through the snow to the rest area's entrance. And then you pulled up, but you had to be different.

I'm sure you didn't realize that you're a representative to an entire nation. I'm sure you never expected your action to be noticed, much less cared about. If you had, I like to think you would have done something different. And that's why I write this letter. Perhaps you will never read it, but somebody will. Somebody who will think two or three times before committing an act that will make other look down upon our nation. And maybe, just maybe, this very same woman will one day receive the chance to see the good side of a yid's behavior.



ser said...

Great post- Dateline has a series called "What would you do". I watched one about a month ago, and it was a similar scenario (sans the Jew). I was surprised by the low volume of people who reacted to others parking in a handicapped spot, but was proud of those (who like you) did speak up- "what would i do"- I don't really know because i was not in the situation but thank YOU for posting your letter.

Michaltastik said...

It's nice to see a post like this. We need more people trying to pressure other Jews to be better people.

Soul Comfort said...

I see things like this every day.
And I still get upset each time.

smb said...

great message, we need to be careful because we don't know who is watching

SquarePeg613 said...

Be aware that not all disabilities are immediately obvious. A friend with cancer struggled with this. She was quite sick, but she looked ok on the outside. She felt embarrassed using the handicapped spots, but she needed them, so she used them.

Data said...

It should be said, that if one acts like that, then to at least have the decency to tuck your tzitzis in and take off the kapul. Even if he had good reason (let's throw him a bone) then he still doesn't have to let all the blame hit us.

I've noticed that in this day and age, some Jews are raised with such an inflated self-worth ("I'm Jewish, the world would collapse without me") that the behavior is unbelievable. Some were just not socialized, and don't lower their voices for cell-phone conversations in public, or give salespeople a hard time, or misbehave on the road.

It's not cute. A chillul Hashem is only mechaper with misah.

So BE AWARE of other people. It's not just about you and God.

aminspiration said...

It is really upsetting when this happens. It had been happening over and over the the community where we work and live among the goyim..all we can do is share the message and strive to be the shining example we are meant to be.

Mushkie said...

Ouch...that's pretty bad. There was an op-ed on collive a few months ago written by a non-chabad lady on a similar theme, I felt so guilty reading it...I always want to write a note and leave it on their window!

it was me said...

Hey I'm the guy you are talking about. i realize what i did seemed wrong but you see, I have a bladder problem and if i didnt get to the bathroom asap, i wouldve had a different reason to feel ashamed. it wasnt the cold that made me park where i did. it was my stomach. you have no idea what i was going through, what i have to go through constantly. its either that or wear a diaper. how would you like to wear a diaper?