I consider myself more of an animal person than a people person.
In fact, I tend to prefer the company of animals over humans about 99.9999% of the time.
“Animals are not jerks; if they do something, they have a good reason for it,” I stated one day.
“Why did Doodle bark at me then?” Mama asked. The only person the pittie-mix has ever barked at is Mama.
“Because you undoubtedly deserved it,” I replied. “Animals are so much better than people. I think I just really don’t like people.”
“Now, baby,” my uncle began. “Don’t be
like that. Animals are wonderful and love us, but we need people.”
“No, we don’t,” I said.
He tsked-tsked under his breath. “Yes, we do, baby. Don’t be hating your fellow man. We need one another. Dogs, cats, and all those other critters you love are good. They give us unconditional love and bring us joy. But we need people.”
As much as I adore my uncle, I disagreed.
People could be rude, hateful, surly. They would lie to you, were untrustworthy, and would take advantage of you if they could.
“You are describing the way the little pit treats me,” Mama interrupted my list of people complaints to declare.
“Baby, people ain’t that bad,” my uncle said gently. “And people need people. You gotta start looking for the good in them. Or all you will find is the flaws.”
It was shocking to hear my uncle say such things. Not because he was normally so quiet but because he is an ardent animal lover. I thought for sure he preferred the company of animals to people, too.
Mama can get on to me about something and I pay her nary a bit of attention. She is always fussing about something I do or say.
But if my sweet, kind-hearted uncle says anything, I take notice.
Did I need to look for the goodness in people?
It could be so hard, or at least that is how it felt to me.
I stood by my earlier litany; people were often not as warm and cuddly as a puppy or a kitten.
Granny didn’t seem to like most people. She didn’t seem to like most animals either though, only finding an affinity for Mama’s Bennie when the little fluffy feline snarled at her.
In retrospection, I even questioned if Granny liked us sometimes.
So, how would I start to like people more?
What should I look for?
I thought of the one or two friends I have and what I liked about them.
They were animal lovers, like me.
They were introverts, like me.
They held views about life that were similar to mine.
These, these were my people.
But what about other people?
The individuals who will save every receipt just in case they need it, then throw it out the day before something needs returning?
The mothers who have packed a Lunchable in their child’s bag on more than one morning because they didn’t feel like bagging carrots and making something healthy?
The people that don’t have voicemail on any of their phones because they aren’t going to check it or return a call anyway?
The ones that change into their jammies the minute they come home?
Those, each and every one, are my people as well. Even if I didn’t know them.
But what about those that didn’t share all those things?
What did that mean about them?
My uncle, with his infinite wisdom, would tell me that they needed to be loved any way as a fellow human being.
Even the ones that I disagreed with, the ones that held different likes, attitudes, opinions, and views?
I knew what he was going to say before he said it.
He shook his head without saying a word. My ‘but’ was not going to get very far in this argument.
Those people needed to be my people, too.
Even if they were unlovable, critical, and had a crappy attitude at times.
They may be the very ones in need of belonging to someone the most.
“Those aren’t my people though,” I muttered.
“They don’t have to be your people,” my uncle began, “but you still have to love them.”
So, in a way, I guess they are my people.
The furry creatures are still tops in my book by a country mile though.