The King of Excuses

I was just about to sit down for a quiet time of reading, reflection and prep in a well-known cafe. It was pretty quiet, apart from the ambient jazz background music. Then suddenly I heard it. The noise of someone weeping. Sighing. Nose blowing. More weeping. More sighing. I scanned the room with the demeanour of a secret agent, attempting to maintain the British ‘mind your own business’ etiquette.

A girl not far from me was weeping. The rest of the room was oblivious. A middle-aged Muslim lady was tapping on her
laptop, sat by the window. A suited guy was filing some documents nearby, while a young student was engrossed in his own Skullcandy – clad world. Another girl was flicking slightly disinterested through a mag. Everyone could hear her but no one reacted. I was getting tense. Edge of the seat tense. There was an inaudible dialogue in my head.

‘Should I go up to her? Should I offer her a drink? What if she thinks I’m weirdo? What if she does not want to be bothered? What if she starts going on and I need to leave! What will the others think? What if this is a staged prank or a social science study?’

Ironically the music switched to some acoustic heartbreak songs. That seemed to set her off even more. Maybe a clue to the cause. Maybe not. Then she stared texting. I thought,’great she’s talking to someone’…she’ll be fine. She wasn’t.

Then REM’s ‘Losing my Religion’ comes on. Was that a hint, from God?

I left as soon a I finished my drink. I couldn’t stand the tension.

Or maybe, I could not stand my own cowardice of doing… nothing. And that’s all that I did, sadly. Well, almost.

On the way out I spoke to the barista, asking her to pop up and try to comfort the girl.

The irony: I was going to prepare a message on evangelism.

Why am I such a wimp? Why are there so many false fears, when faced with an opportunity to care for others? Why all the lame excuses?