Blocked Pipes. Blocked Hearts.

My neighbour called me up while I was taking a walk in the evening. Normally, I avoid phone calls when I go for walks but seeing her number flashing on the screen, I knew something was off. We live in a two-storey house and hers is on the ground floor. There is a recurrent issue with the drainage in her kitchen. The outlet gets clogged and her floor gets flooded. Every time it happens, she runs into panic and speaks to me in an accusatory tone, hinting at her suspicions over my way of handling the disposal of kitchen waste. She is certain that the blockage is happening due to some carelessness on my part. Her assumption is that we are not careful with what we throw in into the sink (vegetable peels, tea leaves, uncooked grains and stuff which don’t go down the pipes and cause this mess). In the past, whenever she called me up to complain, I reacted in a very defensive manner to her presumptions. I didn’t like the way she blamed us for something we had no hand in. We are conscientious people who take pride in their diligence. Needless to say, the conversations always ended with a stifling air of unpleasantness. There was no direct blame game involved but the underlying tension was palpable and we both were secretly aware of it. But this time when she called, I felt something shifting inside me. I took a deep breath and spoke to her in a calm voice and expressed my eagerness to help her deal with the problem at hand. There was a noticeable difference in her voice too. She was more accepting of my views on the issue and was ready to consider that there could be some negligence which occurred while laying down the plumbing system (a piece of concrete might have slipped in and gotten stuck somewhere in the pipes resulting in the blockage). This time our call ended on a peaceful note. A little shift in my attitude and some empathy for a woman who suddenly found herself in a messy situation after a long day of work did the trick. In moments of crisis, people like to blame someone. It serves as a buffer and a momentary distraction from the issue at hand. A kind word or an understanding heart can put the anxious person at ease. I am not sure how helpful I was to her but I sure am impressed with the way I handled the situation. An unexpected display of kindness for a woman who returned home to a stinking kitchen with weeks of dirty grease floating all over her white tiles. Ugh, that would piss me off too!

Pic: Carolyn V (Unsplash)

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