Making a difference…

Was that crickets chirping?

I half woke as Jeremy went into the bathroom. The sound was too exact and repetitive to be crickets, plus we live too high to hear them. Maybe it was a toy?

“Jeremy?” I mumbled. “Is that a toy in your room?”

That was all I could come up with. He has a wide variety of electronics including a few circuit kits with various sounds, maybe it was one of those. It certainly was annoying enough.

“No Mom, it’s someone’s fire alarm,” he replied scornfully.

As long as it wasn’t ours, I didn’t care. Unless it was coming from directly downstairs. No one’s currently in that unit. How long would it take before anyone noticed a fire in there? I sleepily figured their windows would blow out before the fire reached us, giving us time to flee. I stuck a pillow over my head, blocking the noise, then shut my eyes.

“Mom? Mom? Where’s your camera?”

Holy crap… seriously? I opened my eyes again and looked at the clock. 3:45am. I’d used my camera at a wedding I’d attended that day then took it out of my purse and put it… I don’t know. Somewhere.

“I don’t know. Jeremy, I have to be up in exactly two hours for work. I need to sleep.”

“Fine,” he huffed. “I need it for the zoom. The alarm’s coming from the building next door.”

Well, that meant the apartment beneath us was fine. I closed my eyes yet again then opened them at a sound on my balcony. I could see Jeremy’s shape outside. I stumbled to the door and pulled it open.

“Did you climb through your bedroom window again?” I blurted. His window overlooks my balcony and he’d crawled through it a few times last summer, just for the hell of it.

“No,” he retorted. “Mom, there’s a fire next door. The alarm’s been going for less than five minutes and the fire department’s already there. Maybe it’s serious.”

“Hon, we live a block from the fire department. They were probably quick because they weren’t on another call. Get off my balcony so I can sleep. You can go on the main balcony if you’re that desperate to watch.”

If my balcony door wasn’t so stiff, I’m sure he would have slammed it. He stared at me in disgust.

“Mom. There’s a fire over there. People could be hurt and property could be damaged and you’re pretending it’s not happening. You need to show some respect and pay attention to what’s going on. You can’t make a difference if you’re asleep.”

Last night I was much too tired to argue with him. Once again I mumbled I was too tired and collapsed back into bed. My alarm bludgeoned me awake and I nearly fell back to sleep as I rolled out of bed. Good times.

Now I’m marginally more awake and hopefully more coherent. Jeremy’s heart was in the right place and I’m glad he wanted to be respectful and aware. I don’t think he’s realized that his effort needs to make a difference as well.

Let’s say his scenario was right and there was someone in serious danger in that building. Somehow, despite the heavy smoke, they manage to look out a window and see Jeremy standing in pyjamas on our balcony, a camera aimed in their direction. Is his action going to make a difference? Are they going to feel comforted by the attention? Probably not. In order to make a difference, you need to have an action that has an impact on the other person.

This morning I watched an example of what people can do to make a difference and I’m going to share it here too:

This Is What Bullying An Adult For Being Gay Sounds Like (posted  on Upworthy by George Takei)

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One thought on “Making a difference…

  1. Thank you for posting the video from Upworthy. I saved it, to potentially use it when increasing the awareness of diversity at workplace. The first speaker reminded me of a workmate. She came out to me recently, and I had figured out already that she is a lesbian – partially because she talks a lot about her two kids, but never, ever about a spouse or the father of the kids. She does talk about “we”, but hasn’t used other pronouns of whoever the other part of “we” is in addition to herself. So she self-edits hard. I’m not sure why; it’s of course her decision but makes me feel bad. Even more now after having seen the video. I self-edit in some parts of the country (US), not mentioning my boyfriend because I don’t want to get all the questions (How long have you been together? 10 years?! Why aren’t you married? Kids? Why no kids? And on and on.) That’s uncomfortable enough, can’t imagine having to hide someone important to you because of other concerns than just a deluge of questions and some moral judgement.

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