My phone buzzed. I looked at the screen, it said "Reminder: 7:00 One Positive Thing". I had set the daily reminder for myself in an attempt to redeem any bad day by recalling an enlightening moment to turn around all else. In this moment, it seemed cruelly ironic as I was seething with rage.
I had gone out busking. It had been a good day. Over 2 hours in as I approached the end of my stint, I played the song "Low". A random lowlife walked by and snarked, "Yeah, earn that money like a stripper." I didn't much care for his statement, but I was accustomed to shrugging off such remarks, plus he kept walking was already pretty much gone. Then, a huge figure cloaked in a ratty red flannel shirt approached my bag. Her (?) dirty gray curls and overall appearance didn't seem much like a donor. She was reaching into my bag. Occasionally, people took change when they put in a bigger bill, but usually they asked. The person was silent and walked away. I didn't notice any money in her hand as it came out from the bag. But it was extremely suspicious -- I may just have missed it. I turned to onlookers and asked them, "Did that person just steal from my bag?" "Yeah." "What! That's fucked up. Why didn't you tell me?!" "I thought you saw..."
I was infuriated. Red flannel had me seeing red. I had considered this before -- the possibility of someone stealing from the bag -- but had resolved that it didn't really matter that much as they wasn't really a personal loss. Despite this hypothesis, when it actually happened, I was angry beyond myself. I considered running after her, but that would risk even more loss (of money or boombox). And even if I'd caught her, what was I going to do? Rob a (probably) homeless (definitely) obese (probably) woman? No, there was too much uncertainty there. The only certain thing was that I was furious. I was too close to the end of my shift to regain composure and continue so I packed up walked away.
As I walked down the street, I turned my music off. I was caught in the riptides of fury over this. Why did this bother me so much? It wasn't my money. Every dollar put into the bag meant more for me. It was faith -- in my idea and in me. It represented a trust that I felt had been betrayed. Even though it wasn't directly my fault, I felt responsible. I carried this burden -- this guilt.
My thoughts devolved further yet. I realized how vulnerable I was on the street. Why did I leave the comfort of my home to trudge through such a jungle? I was basically putting myself in a position to be physically harmed, verbally abused and/or victimized by criminals during every excursion. This could happen every time. Not only was I physically vulnerable, but more importantly, I was placing myself in a position where a single occurrence could occupy my entire mind and ruin my entire day. There was an emotional vulnerability which was married to my endeavors as well. This was an even higher toll.
And so my day was ruined by a scumbag... I drove home through the mental fog and violent thoughts which made me feel even worse. This was all I could think about or seemingly remember. I couldn't remember the moment all of the good that had preceded this minor catastrophe. I couldn't remember the other homeless guy who walked up with his cane and garbage bag full of belongings and reached into the bag to pull out and donate a bag of Snickers bites. I couldn't remember the Asian guy who asked if I would tag him in and then took center stage for a brilliant moment to drop some ferocious b-boy moves. I couldn't remember the chubby little kid in the down jacket who danced with me despite being mocked and nearly tackled (lovingly) by his sibling. I couldn't remember the adorable little girl in the flowing flowery dress that twirled beautifully when she turned in her bright red half-inch heels. I couldn't remember the muscular dude with the hipster beard who joined me in a dance triggering an enormous applause from the audience. I couldn't even remember the other random guy who came up to me and gave me a Milky Way. I had held the ENTIRE galaxy in my hand, and all I could remember was being skimped a few bucks by an anonymous poor person.
Or maybe I could remember everything else. Maybe I COULD remember all the good. Because I needed to remember. That's why I set the reminder, after all, and it was only 10 minutes until 7:00.