Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cloth sneakers in winter, or sensitivity training needed

Aliza's response to my comment to this post of hers inspired this post.

Over thirty years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, one of my younger co-workers astounded me by repeatedly coming to work in cloth sneakers in the dead of winter. "How can you wear those things?," I chided her again and again. "Your feet will freeze."

It wasn't until years later that it finally dawned on me that she hadn't been wearing cloth sneakers to be fashionable--she'd probably been too broke to buy more protective shoes, and too proud to explain that to me.

How mortifying. Even after all these years, I feel terrible about how terrible I must have made her feel, rubbing her nose in her own poverty practically daily.

This year's Rosh HaShanah/Jewish New Year resolution: I must learn when to offer advice and when it would be better to remain silent.

As someone who once went so long without new glasses--because my parents couldn't afford to buy them--that I had to ask to sit in the first row of the classroom, I should have understood that my co-worker had no money to spare for decent shoes.

And, as Aliza said here, "In general, don't offer people advice about their health unless they've asked you for it. It's not helpful. When people complain about their health problems, they want you to listen, not solve them."
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