Packaging is the bane of my existence.
This morning, I struggled with a yogurt container, of all things. Remember when yogurt containers had nice lids, and the lid could be re-affixed if you couldn’t eat the whole allotment?
Now, most single-serving yogurts have foil or plastic hermatically sealed over the little cup, and it takes an act of a sharply divided Congress to pry the thing loose. As I pulled at it, willing my clumsy hands to steady and put just the amount of torque on the fragile object, I thought about another person whom I knew long ago, and who had his own severely palsied hands.
I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember his name. He worked for an economic development project in the Bootheel of Missouri when I was in my early teens. I did a few good deeds back then, which I’m sure is how I managed to salvage some of my otherwise misspent youth. One such project involved raising money for the town of New Haiti, Missouri; and this gentleman served as a contact person for the youth group of which I was a part, the Young World Development, an affiliate of the American Freedom From Hunger Foundation.
He came to stay at the YWD office for a while. He had cerebral palsy and, additionally, could neither talk or hear. One day, a bunch of us arrived at the office to find a note from him, which read roughly as follows:
Two large, unpleasant boys banged on the front door. I ignored them for a while, but they kept banging. I couldn’t hear, of course, but I could tell they were banging because they cracked the glass in the window. I finally went down to the front door and gestured for them to leave. They kept banging. They screamed at me, which I couldn’t hear, of course, but I could tell they were screaming because their faces got very red and their eyes were ugly. I waived my arms toward the street, trying to convince them that I had no intention of talking with them. Finally, I wrote a note, held it up to the window, and pointed to it. They read it; and then they went away.
Sitting next to his note to us, was his note to the two boys. That note said, in large, block letters:
GO AWAY!!!!!! GO AWAY, RIGHT NOW, OR I WILL OPEN THIS DOOR AND THROTTLE YOU WITH MY LILY-WHITE SPASTIC HANDS.
There was a little smiley face drawn under the part about lily-white spastic hands.
As I struggled with the bane of my existence this morning, I thought about that social worker and his stilled voice, his unhearing ears, and his lily-white spastic hands with which he probably would never have so much as killed a fly. About the time I got the lid off, I found myself grinning ear-to-ear. Still smiling, I sat down at our dining room table, and began to eat my nonfat Greek yogurt, holding a silver spoon in my own rather clumsy, gnarled and hardly lily-white hands. I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast.