Her hands are trembling, as is her voice. Actually there isn’t much of a voice having just recently obtained an upper respiratory infection. Her eyes are dilated with fear. Even though she is clean and pleasantly dressed in casual attire, she is self-conscious about her appearance. She would normally wear this outfit while lounging at home, not in an office. Her face displays no trace of make up.
His shoulders are hunched, ready for battle. His voice is loud, ready for battle. His hearing is diminished, ready for battle. Arms are folded defensively across his chest.
They are being questioned about the events of the past hour. The associate attending to them is speeding through her explanations. When these customers leave, there will always be another set to deal with. For her, this is just old hat; however, they are just old. They are scared and confused. Too many terms are being thrust at them when they have just had a phone call that threatens their financial security. Their options are laid out, again with not enough customer care and too much flippancy. The man and woman each much speak to another associate on the phone, sharing personal details. Both stumble over their answers even though they know these details like the back of their hands. The associate has to be prompted to carry out functions that should have been a natural next step.
It is hard to watch their overt feelings of helplessness and confusion. It is hard to witness their panic. It is heartbreaking to see and to hear their trembling. How very vulnerable they seem. The elderly are such easy targets for scams and nefarious trickery.
The gift of touch broke through his wall and his defenses were lowered. His shoulders released and increased in distance from his ear lobes. Cheeky teasing brought to her a sudden blush and a burst of laughter. Something in the atmosphere changed.
The associate began talking to them as if they were her parents. She became more personable and less robotic and business like. Proper safety and accessibility measures were placed and assurances made that no harm would come.
The panic disappeared but the dazed looks did not. The urgency settled into alertness. Desperate left and grateful arrived. Coldness melted into a certain camaraderie.
When the number of people who seek your attention desensitizes you from seeing them as individuals, that number crunches your soul. Your world becomes reduced to the number on the clock and the number waiting to see you.
When the number in your account becomes threatened by an unwelcome invader, that number crunches your security. Your world quickly disappears from under feet and you find yourself in a free fall.
When the number on your birthday cake gives you more memories than dreams, that number crunches your strength and vulnerability. Your world becomes threatening, confusing and altogether too fast. Too much happens too quickly with little comprehension of it all.
The numbers will never stop crunching as we go through the sequence of life. Life is full of numbers that pinch and grind and crunch. At times the numbers will climb; one will be followed by two and two will be followed by three. At other times, the numbers will reverse and there will be sequences below zero that we never knew were possible.
How many times must we forgive…again? How long must I wait … another week, another month, another year? How many of my loved ones must I bury? How many more chemo treatments must I endure? How many diapers am I going to have to change … today? How long must I keep asking? How many hours will my pay rest in my hands and when will I eat again?
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”