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We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A Small Moment of Mending Brokenness

--by Tejas Doshi, Sep 04, 2019

I used to believe that I was a very accepting person. But a few weeks ago, something happened at my workplace that made me recognize my own brokenness -- it helped me see the disconnect between my values, and how I respond in certain moments. I work at the front desk of a hotel. On multiple occasions over the past couple of weeks, a sex-worker reserved a room on our property. Sitting at the front desk I'd see her interacting with people in the corridor, I'd see her check-in and check-out. And I would have this incredibly palpable feeling of disgust come up whenever she walked by. Just catching sight of her would make me feel so low. I'd have this urge to get out of there or look away.

But there was another side of me which was like, "Wait a minute! At the end of the day, she's a human being with a soul and inside of her is the beauty that Mother Earth puts in each and every one of us. So why am I judging her? I realized that when she was on our property, I wasn't at peace inside myself. There was this need arising to figure this feeling of discomfort. Like I needed to mend this brokenness within me between my values and my conduct.

At our hotel when guests don't pay by credit card, we take a deposit. Then when they check out, they get it back. But before refunding the deposit we typically have one of the housekeepers take a look at the room to ensure there's no damage. If all is fine, we refund the deposit.

When this woman showed up at the front desk one morning to check out, she started to hand over her room key to me. Despite all my good intentions, my aversion towards her was so strong that I made sure my hand did not touch hers. That was when I had this realization: If I was going to begin to mend my brokenness, this was the moment.

So instead of sending a housekeeper to inspect the room, I decided to do it myself. I stepped away from the desk, requested her to wait a bit while I went over to her room. The walk to her room and back was going to be a long journey!

Standing inside I wondered what I could do to dissolve my negativity. The fact that I avoided her hands touching mine while I took the room key from her was biting me hard from within. I sat on the couch knowing she too would have sat on it. Looking around, I noticed on the coffee table, there was an open bag of chips. I knew it was something she'd handled. So I got up, picked it up and pulled out one chip from this open bag and ate it.

Somehow, this simple action gave me peace of mind. Maybe it was my way of saying, "Yes. I'm accepting her for who she is. She's a soul. She's not the same as her actions. It's the society that we've created around us that's driven her to being this way."

It was a very small moment. But it helped mend my own brokenness in a powerful way.

Tejas Doshi is a photographer, filmmaker and ServiceSpace volunteer.


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