The personal website of Chris Coyier

Emotional Oscillation

I was just at my local Subway. There was an old man who I felt something was “off” with the moment I walked in there. He was vigorously eating his sandwich, and staring at people. At one point he got up and moved tables randomly.

Ten minutes later he cut in line and demanded a water cup. A few minutes later he moved tables again and started arguing with the employees. At first the employees were calm (I’m sure they are used to this). Then the guy started with serious insults and racism. I really like the employees there so I stood up and faced the situation in case something even crazier were to happen I could help.

It just went on and on and on. They seemed like they were making some progress in getting him out of the store, and I couldn’t take much more so I left.

This kind of thing I’m sure happens in every single store on every single street corner in a city like Chicago. It’s nothing new. But my own emotional reaction to it always feels fresh an intense. It goes like this:

  1. I feel the person causing problems should be thrown to the ground and beaten until hospitalized.
  2. I feel guilty for ever thinking such a thing, and realize the person has serious mental problem and needs help and caring not violence

Repeat.

I keep finding ways to feel mad again instead of sympathetic and I go back to #1. I sure wouldn’t make a great social worker.