At 4:00 this afternoon, I was on a conference call with an unhappy customer. And I was trying to reassure him that everything was OK, but while I was doing that, I was clicking relentlessly through Internet tabs, trying to get my head around the chaos and devastation happening in Paris. It reminded me of 9/11 - all this work is so meaningless when the sky is falling.
When I got off the phone, Don told me that we needed to make sure to keep our eye on the release of a video of a white Chicago policeman firing 16 bullets into the corpse of a 17 year old black kid. It could tear Chicago apart, he said. But it needs to come out.
Scared. Shaky. So sad. I said on Facebook that it felt like the world was flying off its axis.
In the middle of these dire thoughts, Laney came in to remind me that I'd promised her that we could go to GameStop to sell our old Wii consoles. I'd told her that if we made enough money selling them, she could buy a new Zelda 3DS game. So we stacked the Wii stuff in the car and drove over to Gamestop.
I live in a neighborhood that I love a lot. I really do. It has beaches and personality and all kinds of different people. But there is also a lot of gang activity and when you drive down Howard Street, you'll see a lot of cops, and the threat of violence seems to loom large. Parlous times. World flying off its axis. Violence and anger everywhere.
I walked into the GameStop with a laundry basket full of old Wii stuff. A young white guy with a hipster beard helped me with my basket and told me he worked there, but wasn't presently working. I'd dealt with him before at this GameStop. He's very sweet. He looked in my basket and said, "Aw, they won't take those Wii boards." And I said, "Will they throw them away?" And he laughed and said, "Yeah. But Terry might want them too."
Terry, it turns out, runs a nearby after school program.
I was all for Terry taking them.
One of the guys who was working came over and said, "I'm sorry, but he has to help you because I can't do buy backs." He was sweet too.
Laney and I had to wait for about 45 minutes before the guy who was able to do the buy back finished with the other family he was helping. During that 45 minutes, I kept scrolling through news stories about Paris. World flying off its axis. But, when I looked up, all the other people in the store were OK. All different ages, races and genders. But they all just liked games. So no one was rolling eyes or sighing about the wait. They were talking to each other about games.
When it got to be my turn to sell my stuff, the guy who waited on me was so nice, I actually said, "You guys are always so nice here!' He smiled and chatted with us about little things while he checked out the games we were selling back and the equipment. At one point, Laney pointed out some anime thing and said to me, "I liked that show until it got terrible." He laughed and said "It did get terrible! But the first two episodes were great" I had no idea about this show, but Laney lit up.
Terry from the after school group wandered in and I got to meet him. He was a young guy - much younger than I expected, maybe 25 or so. The GameStop guy asked me if I had the original backs for my Wii motion controller. I didn't but I was all, "Seriously, I was going to put this stuff in the alley. If there's anything you can't buy, don't feel bad." Then Terry said, "I bet I have some."
Because gamers just have things like Wii motion controllers back panels in their backpacks and are happy to give them to you.
There was a guy waiting behind me, he was maybe 35 or so and just waiting to buy something. Poor guy ended up waiting for like 30 minutes while I finished my transaction. I said, "Just your luck, huh? To be stuck behind the woman selling back every piece of Wii equipment ever." He chuckled. I repeat - no eye rolls, no sighs. He just chuckled.
Laney and the GameStop guy chatted about Zelda and Pokemon and anime.
In the end, my stuff was worth about $50 which was more than enough to buy Laney's new game. I gave Terry a Wii remote charging station. His after school program sounded pretty amazing. I bet Laney would like it if because it was just a bunch of middle schoolers who like games.
Everyone there was so nice.
Back home, I can't stop watching the news. I bet lots of people can't stop watching the news. The world does feel like it's spinning off its axis.
But there was a brief respite for me today, in some dumpy little storefront, in a gang-ridden part of the Chicago, where everyone around me was just too busy liking something to be hateful.
Didn't matter age, nor race, nor gender. They all just liked games.
A total oasis in a desert of strife and sadness.
This is probably a stupid blogpost. I don't know. Terrible, awful things are happening and a bunch of gamers being nice is inconsequential except it's not. Kindness matters. Liking people is harder and so much better than hating people.
Later on, I'll get in bed and watch dumb TV while Laney plays on her 3DS. Dumb TV and a 3DS are silly, stupid distractions - but they are also one of our grandest privileges. I am goddamn grateful for them.
My heart breaks for the devastation and terror. I am so lucky for my oases.
Be kind, people. Like things. That matters so much more than we give it credit for.