I stopped into the gas station this morning to get some cheap coffee. There was a short line, held up by a chatty older man with rough looking pants on – a construction worker of some sort, I guessed. As he left, I walked up to the counter, just in time to hear the clerk say to her coworker:
“You know what? He may drink too much every night, but he goes to work every day.”
To which the coworker responded:
“Yeah. He’s a hard worker.”
I could have viewed the comments in one of two ways. And I did. First, I was annoyed. It sounded like a dismissal of the man’s drinking problem – a downplaying of the disease and an enabling statement.
Then, as I got into the car and thought about it, I realized it could have been said in admiration – the man had a disease, but he wasn’t letting it take over his life. In fact, if he can work every day without fail, he might be able to take the next step in overcoming his problem.
It just goes to show you how difficult it can be when you make a snap decision on what someone says, especially when you have no frame of reference. It can be dangerous. Libelous. Or completely harmless.
Either way, I shouldn’t have to think about this stuff before I’ve had my coffee, thanks.