Today’s anecdote, “Things Overheard,” was submitted and written by Austin Hedman.
“So, I was in Burlington Coat Factory with my family. We had just eaten Red Robin. I had to poop all day. I had to go. So, I go to the bathroom in Burlington. I sit on the seat, and I start doing my business. After I was done (pre-wipe), a guy walks in. I’m sitting on the pot. I don’t make a sound. ‘It was so silent you could hear a fly fart. It was like an angelic whisper.’ I didn’t want him to know I was there. I was waiting for him to leave; he was peeing for like, five minutes (stop and go… you know). While he’s peeing, he says, ‘I love your family. I love that you consider me a part of it. And I consider you my family.’ He spoke softly in a very happy, peaceful mood. I tried not to laugh, because he had no idea I was there. Then, about a minute later, he talks again: ‘I love you so much. I love you and your family with all of my heart.’ I’m on the pot, and I decided to say something. I said, ‘Thank you so much! I’m not sure what to say exactly.’ There was about a 30-second awkward period of silence. Then he said, ‘You’re welcome, buddy!’ He zipped up quickly after. Then we both started laughing, me in the stall and he standing right outside the stall. He told me he was talk-texting his girlfriend and didn’t know anyone was hearing what he was saying. We were both laughing so hard that I was farting on the toilet, and he was wheezing. We laughed so hard. He said that this was the most awkward/funny thing that had ever happened to him. And I told him that I’m just an awkward guy. We then said goodbye, and he exited while I wiped my cheeks. I never saw his face.”
When Austin sent me this story, I read it three or four times within an hour of receiving it. My mom laughed so hard that her makeup may have started to smear. I really appreciate Austin’s openness and willingness to have this story posted on the blog.
We have a thin-skinned culture that is easily offended and embarrassed. To avoid such embarrassment and offense, our conversation quickly drifts to meaninglessness and inauthenticity. What I love about this story, and what I think we can learn from it, is that it is alright to be transparent and vulnerable. Certainly “bathroom humor” shouldn’t dominate our conversations, but very few topics should. However, we shouldn’t shy away from telling stories and having conversations that expose our vulnerability and imperfections – in appropriate contexts, of course.
In the story itself, the talk-texting stranger accepted his vulnerability by laughing with Austin about the awkwardness of the situation. We all experience situations that embarrass us, but how often do we foster that embarrassment instead of just laughing along? Life is too short to let what other people think of you prevent you from having a good time. This is especially true in the light of what Christ thinks of us: he calls us his children, his co-heirs, and his friends. When we realize this truth, vulnerability and authenticity become a lot easier to exemplify. The world sees this and recognizes its value. People are longing for something that feels real. We can take a small step by letting go of our pride and being honest about our imperfections. If people begin to do this, the culture could shift as a result. Think about that: by simply accepting your awkwardness, you can change the world.
If any of you have a story that you’d like to share, head over to the Contact \ Connect page.