Yesterday afternoon, Somayya and I both groaned as usual when we came in sight of the parking garage and the four long flights of stairs we'd have to climb in order to reach her car, which was parked on the uppermost level.
We had just finished a cross-campus-and-back-again trek that included walking from the chemistry building to our respective internship buildings to the office of the registrar to the human development advisor's office to the student union, and the thought of climbing four flights of stairs was not appealing at all. To be honest, it's never appealing, and although we've walked up and down those stairs multiple times a day for the past four years, we never fail to mutter complaints about the exertion that's involved.
I squinted and looked up as we approached the bottom of the stairs.
"Oh, my God," moaned Somayya, "here we go again."
I was about to tiredly mumble some form of irritable assent when my eye was caught by a figure less than halfway up the first flight of stairs.
"Hey, at least we're not on crutches," I answered in a low voice.
"Least we're not on crutches," I repeated a bit louder, and jerked my chin up towards the girl at a standstill just a few steps above us. She stood stock-still to the side, her head bowed, towel-wrapped crutches placed underneath both armpits, while students indifferently maneuvered their way around her.
"Yeah, true," said Somayya with a half-laugh. "I guess I'll stop complaining now."
When we came abreast of the girl, we looked over worriedly. "Are you gonna make it okay?"
"Stuck," she said shortly. Her face was sheened in perspiration, and she seemed short of breath.
I glanced up at the seemingly endless steps remaining until the next landing, and winced. "I'm sorry," I said sympathetically, at a loss for words.
"Don't feel sorry for me," she retorted emphatically. "Feel sorry for people in wheelchairs."
We silently nodded in agreement and continued on our way.
"Damn," I said admiringly to Somayya when we reached the next landing, "that girl's got some real perspective."
The encounter reminds me of a saying I once read in relation to the Irish, and the ways in which their imagination and sense of humor come into play during times of great difficulty:
What happens is never the worst.
On the contrary, what's worse never happens.