Our school librarian received an urgent phone call right around lunch time on a Thursday. "Your house is on fire," the voice on the other end exclaimed. With that, she slammed down the receiver, grabbed her purse, ran to the office to announce her immediate departure, and flew down the hall out the doors to the parking lot.
I work in an elementary school and by nature it is filled with estrogen. So of course, it is a grand incubator of female behavior patterns. News of the disaster traveled quickly up and down the corridors, in and out of classrooms, until every teacher buzzed about it in hallways, beyond closed classroom doors.
As soon as she caught wind of it, one teacher ran out, hot on the librarian's heels, saying, "I can't let her be all alone when she sees the damage."
Another teacher, in response to the news, remarked, "Oh that is just terrible. But thank goodness it didn't happen at night when she was asleep."
A third colleague, teary eyed and weeping, said, "My students keep asking me why I'm crying. I told them it's because I'm so sad. I just called my burglar alarm company and made sure my fire alarm is connected to their system so that if my house catches on fire the firemen will get there fast. It's just so scary when you think about it. And I left my cat in the laundry room this morning. If my house did catch on fire, I worry about what would happen to my cat. I should put a note on my door when I leave home to let firefighters know to try to save my cat." She shed more tears and blew her nose and went on and on.
There is empathy. There is sympathy. Then there is downright thievery.
It's funny how the very women who shun thrift store fashions, are the same ones who crave hand-me-down drama. They latch on to another person's crisis and make it their own tear-filled, fate changing, woe is them, life altering meltdown. In essence, out of fear that they will never have their own perfect storm of attention demanding drama, they steal another woman's crisis right out from under her.
How to spot 'em:
Sympathizers: They keep a distance, and are known to give a pat on the hand accompanied by a platitude such as, "Dahlin', everythin' will be fine. You all will be just fine." Casseroles and hams often come with the reassurance and are used as a barrier between the sympathizer and the scene.
Empathizers: These women come to your house, clean it without judgement, and sit in the bathroom with you while you cry until the well runs dry. No empty words cross their lips. They don't just bring a meal, they dish it up and serve it to you to make sure you eat. Empathizers never fear your pain.
Thieves: These ladies pat your hand, bring a casserole, and take your tissues. Before long, they've got themselves so worked up about all the what ifs and how they narrowly escaped such and such, that you're comforting them with, "Sugah, it'll be alright. You hang in there."
Which one are you?
Think about it.