In the Union

(Haley is sitting with her feet in a chair while eating her chicken strips and curly fries, which are thoroughly doused in condiment soup—mostly ketchup)

Internal Voice of Crazy (judgy as hell): Eww…get your feet off that chair! That’s unsanitary. Where do you think you are, your house??

Haley (flat voice): I believe I am in the Student Union, eating curly fries and ketchup, with my feet on a chair.

IVC (flat voice): That’s not okay.

Haley (taken aback): Why?

IVC (still judgy as hell): Well, for one it’s gross. It’s a public health concern! I’m trying to eat.

Haley (legitimately freaked out): Do you have food? Are you still able to swallow??

IVC (in a dull rage): I shouldn’t have to look at your nasty feet on that chair while I’m eating!

Haley: Well, I disagree.

IVC (dripping with unsolicited advice): Oh, you do??

Haley: Yes. But I know how to prove that I’m right.

IVC (like a terrible person): Oh, do tell most magnanimous asshole.

Haley: I will challenge you to a bet. If you win, I will no longer put my feet on chairs in public ever again. If I win, you will make sure the chair is cleaned yourself, either by cleaning it or by paying the person who cleans it twice the amount of their hourly wage by the number of rounded hours it will take to clean it; once for me and once for you.

IVC (short and retaliatory): Fine. So?

Haley: You will come with me to volunteer for one full shift of the person that normally cleans this chair, and donate your time and any applicable earnings to him or her. You will ask that person about his or her family, sharing about yours as well, their interests, identity, struggles, and all other things that they will share with you. Based on this experience and you prior experiences with people’s feet on chairs and your shared opinions, if you still believe at the end of the night that your reaction to my feel on this chair as I have recorded was warranted, I will never put my feet on chairs like this again. If you can tell me why, I will match whatever you pay to that person.

But, if you find that your reaction to my feet on this chair was unjust and unfair based on your experience learning from that person and your prior experiences with people’s feet on chairs and your shared opinions, you will apologize. You will not apologize to me. You will apologize to the person who cleans these chairs. You will apologize sincerely. And you will ask them what they need, and give it.

Haley: This is what I have written. When are we working?

IVC: Well…we could do Saturday. I don’t know that I want to spend my Saturday cleaning though…”

Haley: Saturday it is, then. Unless you are already willing to pay the price.


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I am a second-grade teacher and pastor-to-be who loves people. I spend my weekends with friends or wandering the museums of DC alone and with a journal, trying to put words on the places of the soul that still feel wordless. I spent most of my days at school trying to learn patience through my students and running on sheer nerdy passion. I follow Jesus Christ, and savor that as my most important identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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