You made someone a villian.

You ever had the thought that you contributed to someone's villian backstory? Well, I did.

I saw a guy at the mall one day. He looked a bit weirdly dressed. Not that he's homeless, just that he didn't look very clean, and not very tidy. He was wearing a pair of loose and baggy beige cargo pants along with a white polo tee striped across the chest. His looks were uncannily similar to the Hunchback in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)" As opposed to the 1939 version. I didn't know there was an even older version of the story lol., even the hairstyle but without it being parted in the middle. On top of that, he was pale and thin as a stick (what they used to call me in highschool). So imagine the face of the Hunchback with a little bit of hair on top, but with the skeleton-like features more pronounced.

Anyways, I was walking through the mall one day. It was a very bad day for me. My laptop screen died, and I had a bunch of work to do. To even get to the mall I had to drive 20 minutes from my place, only to arrive at Switch for them to tell me that they could only do a screen replacement for RM3k++ and not just repair the broken components of my laptop. I don't want to go into the technical details too much, hence this being in the footnotes, but the issue my laptop ran into was the very common flexgate. It's especially common in Macbook pros between the year 2016-2017, although I found out later that it's less common in my model of the MBP, but still… (Go Apple for their scummy engineering practices!) They just wanted to me to get a new laptop, as is Apple's standard procedure. So I left the Genius bar and got a little frustrated because the nearest competent third-party Apple repair center would definitely be at least a 30-min drive away, and I was not a fan of wasting time on commute especially when that time could be better used elsewhere. But I had to get my laptop fixed. I had no choice but to go online to find a third-party Apple repair store, and find I did (surprise surprise, 30 minutes away). After giving the guy a call and saying that I would be there within 30 minutes, I put my phone back in my pocket and proceeded to speed-walk (a bit frustratingly, like a man with purpose but angry purpose) to my car.

As I was on my way out of the mall, I saw the man I described earlier a distance away. He was holding a white plastic bag with something in it and he was going near people with his hand extended, holding something like a card. I thought he was trying to sell something. Many people seemed to move out of his way as well. As I was about to walk past him to get to the exit, I heard the words, "Is this your-" and before I could even let him finish I curtly said "No, thank you," very quickly, still under the assumption that he was trying to sell something. I did all of this without even slowing down, without even properly looking at him or see what he was holding out; keeping my pace and walked by him like he was nothing. I heard him faintly say the words, "card..." and as I continued on to the exit, it hit me.

It was a debit/credit card that someone lost, and the plastic bag that he was holding was a box of either a hairdryer or a big utensil (that he so obviously bought). I don't remember quite clearly, but these were the details I picked up as I brushed past him on the way to the exit. I instantly felt bad because I basically ignored him, when he was just trying to do good.

The painful fact wasn't only that I ignored him, but literally everyone I saw since I started walking from the center of the mall to the exit, were giving him the same treament. Ignoring him like he was a scammer, or just moving away in a bit of disgust. I'm not exaggerating. Even though it was just a lost card, people reacted like he was worse than a salesperson. It might be due to his looks, his mannerisms, or something that happened earlier (idk, but if that was the case then you can stop reading now i guess lol). But regardless of what other people did, I knew that I did the person wrong, when he was trying to do right. I judged someone based on their looks, and subsequently how other people around him reacted. That’s just not how we’re supposed to treat people, and I regret that.

Imagine how you would feel if you were him. You found a lost bank card on the floor. You thought that maybe the person that dropped it was still around and hopefully nearby, and you went around asking people if they had accidentally dropped their card, hoping that someone finds their lost card; only to be treated like crap and nothing by people, some even intentionally moving away from you before you could even get close enough to ask. A lost bank card you found on the floor isn't even your problem, but now people made it seem like you're the problem. Imagine if this guy has been treated this way his entire life, and he still found that last slither of light in him to do a bit of good, only to receive this kind of treatment... It wouldn't take much to push him over the edge.

We're not as kind as we think, are we?

I constantly think back to that moment, when I brushed past him. I felt the disappointment from him. The subtle frustration. I felt the helplessness of a person just trying to do right. It was lonely. And all because I was too caught up in my own shit, I couldn't bear to be kind for just a moment.

I contributed negatively to the worldview of a person. Enough of these instances, and it's going to be a pretty dark worldview, isn't it? And all I have to show for it is a then broken laptop screen.

I can't really pinpoint why I feel so strongly towards this encounter. I imagine most people would just brush it off, right? "You're probably reading too much into it", or "He should've just went to the security counter". But I think what happened was something more than that. I felt something move in me when I walked past the dude, and I don't think it's something that should be ignored. How many times does this need to happen for a person to turn against life? It's easy to be bitter. It takes just a few steps to fall into darkness. We all know how easy it is because we've faced it before too. Imagine contributing to that tipping factor.

At one point or another, we probably played a contributing role in someone's villian arc. But (one could say) that's just the way it is, right? If we look at it from another perspective, he might've just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe I treated him like crap because I was just so having a bad day. Who's to blame for that? Maybe he just forgot to take a shower that day. Was it his fault that he was trying to do good on that day? Maybe everyone else was having a bad day, or they were just really confident that they didn't lose their card. Things happen so randomly (and all quite naturally) in the world that it's hard to accurately point out what's the defining cause of a moment, and some people just get dealt a bad hand. I take personal accountability in that interaction, but in the grand scheme of things, does that really matter? Of course, one could always choose a frame of reference (be it time or scale) where nothing they did now matters. Like saying in 100 years, I would be so old I wouldn't care about my exam grades, or saying in whatever billion years the Sun will explode so what's the point of working hard now, things like that. An example on the scale would be like, "I'm just one person. It wouldn't make a difference if I use an extra plastic straw." You get the idea.
I'm choosing to look at it from a perspective where it's wide enough to look at the behaviour of surrounding people, but close enough to consider individual implications.

The world works in mysterious ways, and sometimes this leads me to believe that some people are just chosen to fall. It's not fair. Not fair at all. And mind you I'm not absolving any personal responsibility in any of my social interactions when I say this. We should always try to be kind, but in that one moment of (my) failure, I got a glimpse into the potential negativity that the world very realistically harbours.

It's inevitable, isn't it? We can't always be good, because we're imperfect as humans. At some point unknowingly, we might've ruined someone’s day, or pushed them over the edge, deeper into darkness. Maybe all we can do is to try our best to be kind.

Be kind.

”The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don't know what's going on." - Waymond Wang [from Everything Everywhere All At Once]

Coincidentally, the experience I had in a way coincides with the plot in EEAAO. There was so much going on from (that version of) Waymond's perspective, he really never knew what was going on. He only saw people say weird things, get thrown around, punched, and had things stuck up their buttholes. But he said these words.

I had no idea what was going on too. I only judged the man from a distance afar. I didn't know what was going on with him, or what he was doing. I jumped to conclusions. I was so overwhelmed with my own frustration, my thoughts, my plans. "If I can't fix my laptop today I'll do this...", "I'll use the library computer...", "I need to tell my supervisor...", "Dammit I need to drive for so long I'm wasting my time..." I was in a brief moment of chaos, and as a result I was a bad judge of the situation. And I wasn't kind. So I guess the movie serves as a pretty good reminder to myself.

Be kind.