A lack of mindfulness. Sat at a table with a colleague, I became aware that the table had been cleared and the washing up was under away; not that I had asked anyone to do anything, but the women present had got on and done things.
A couple of hours later, at a diocesan function, I catch sight of one of my male colleagues handing around the sandwiches. Having been circulating, trying to say a word of welcome, I had given no thought to who might be assisting the women who had prepared the tables laden with cake and sandwiches. There was no reason why I could not have circulated while handing out the food.
Later, a man tells me a story of a neigbour whom he knew whose wife was heavily pregnant. The neighbour had no car and the man offered to drive them to hospital if the birth of the baby became imminent. ‘Don’t worry about the time of day, just come and knock the window’.
‘It was a real dirty night, the rain was lashing and there was a gale howling and I thought I heard something. I sat up in bed and, sure enough, it was the neighbour. We got in the car and drove up to his house. The wife was walking around the kitchen, obviously getting pains’.
‘Have a seat’, he says to me. I sat down and thought he was going to get things ready. ‘We’ll have a cup of tea before we go’. I didn’t like to say anything. The poor wife made tea, stopping every couple of minutes because of the pain’.
‘Anyway, we got in the car and I was driving to the hospital and the wife was getting the pains more frequently and the neighbour didn’t seem in the slightest bit worried. We got there and she walked into the hospital and he walked along there. He didn’t say anything to me about how he would get home, so I thought I had better wait in the foyer until he came out of the ward with some news. Anyway, about ten minutes later he came from the ward and said, ‘Right we’ll head on now, they can look after her. I’ll phone up in the morning to see if there is any news’.
‘What happened?’ I asked the man.
‘We got in the car and drove home and as far as I know he went to bed and phoned up in the morning’.
It seemed an extraordinary story, but maybe not so far from sitting at the table talking while women do the work around you.