My father taught me the word considerate when I was six. He said it meant to be kind to other people, though the examples he often used illustrated the lack of consideration people had. Most often when we were driving somewhere or in traffic. Shortly thereafter I saw a boy in class throw garbage on the floor. A sense of superiority came over me as I marched over, nose in the air, armed with my new found vocabulary and chastised him for not being considerate. I turned on my heel and headed back to my coat cubby with a victorious huff.
That kid likely grew up to be one of the people whose lack of consideration I face daily. The one who leaves his coffee on the floor of the train and takes up two parking spots. He walks through life as though the rules don't apply to him. I've hated him for years, which is why I am both angered and deeply ashamed that I've become him.
I'm now the one who leaves things in the grocery store making a passerby confused as to why a box of cookies is laying with the meat.
I'm the person who doesn't pick up the trash that clearly missed the can in the restroom.
The one pushing the shopping cart into the empty parking spot and doing the walk of shame back to her car.
The one leaving messes under tables and sugar packets poorly reassembled in their container at restaurants.
The tired woman bumping into people with no regard.
The frantic lady with her child covered in vomited milk, leaving most of it on the mall floor.
I try to be considerate, I really do. But when I became a parent my daughter's needs became top priority, my own second and everything else fighting for last place. So while my brain is focused on the task of getting through the store before she has a fit, getting her strapped into the car seat with one knee on a sippy cup and one on a moldy banana, and trying to remember what it was I forgot at home, I become a little reckless.
I was ashamed by my behavior until I dropped a tray of my family's burritos on the floor at Moe's Mexican Grill. I had so many things in my hand as I looked for a table while my husband took our crying child to the bathroom. Tables of people looked at me as my face burned red with embarrassment and anger, but no one got up to help. My husband and hysterical daughter returned, giving me no choice but to leave the heap of broken nachos for the wait staff to clean up.
So although I often feel foggy and scattered, knowing every once in a while I need to apologize, I don't. I have a kid. Though she isn't my excuse for being inconsiderate she's my "inconsiderate deductible." She warrants many inconsiderate moments before she is old enough to catch on and I have to start teaching her how to respect the world around her.
Until then I'll leave a bigger tip, run away from the mess a little faster, shrug my shoulders, and learn to play dumb. All in the name of my family and those like me who are just doing our best to survive and make it to the next cringe worthy moment.