I scan my bus farecard and find a seat up front. The heat circulates around me constantly like the conversations strangers handle on cell phones.
“I’m on my way to one of my many jobs,” says a lady in a puffy white coat on her phone. She’s only a couple of seats back. I wonder silently how many riders are on their way to work as I head home. I close my eyes and feel my skin warming up. Alerts vibrate phones. At nearly every stop people board or exit. The farebox validates cards and coins.
“Well,” the lady continues with an even tone, “I’ll be preaching at 11 on Sunday.” She’s not loud, but she’s confident. Maybe she’s a minister or just a guest speaker. She ends her call. In the quiet moment, I take a breath and blink my sore eyes. Then my heart skips a beat. I hope she won’t single me out and ask to pray for me. I shift in my seat.
Unsolicited prayers from strangers who notice my cane make me uneasy. It’s nice to be included, but I prefer not to know when someone feels the need to pray for me because I’m blind. I’m not cursed, I’m an imperfect human like everyone else. The bus speeds down the road and a shame trigger activates, darkening my mood.
The lady in white reaches for the yellow stop request cord and her down jacket rustles. No prayers aloud for me. Another rider bids her farewell with a, “have a blessed day.” She makes her way carefully to the front door with solid footfalls and exits. She walks with purpose.
My heart skips again. Whether she noticed me is irrelevant. Why did I judge her? I’m guilty of putting her into a box, of labeling her. I look at the floor and chew my lip about the irony. Time to turn off that yapping inner critic. Time to remember we’re all human.
Another person boards. As he passes, I can’t help but notice his gold sneakers. Gold. The instance clears my anxious mind. Mental inbox zero: achieved.
What shuts down your inner critic? Have you had a Judge Judy moment lately? Tell me about it.