The Walking Dead

Have you ever encountered someone who has clearly lost their soul, or the living spirit inside them, and for the life of YOU, you can’t seem to help them bring it back out?

Well, that happened to me recently, while doing, of all things, shopping for a kitchen sink.

At this moment, you may be asking yourself, don’t most, regular people, (unlike this writer), simply go in and do their shopping, with little regard for the salesperson with a ring in her nose,  an arms-length tattoo, and a blank, empty stare on her face,  mumbling incessantly about various types of sinks?

For me, I guess, it came down to part necessity, and ultimately, I did care, responding twice by prodding gently, “ I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty hearing you,” but after a while, I realized the underlying problem was not hearing but SEEING her and this seemed to be troubling me the most.

So, my choice, was to focus on being humble and genuine, fumbling over my lack of knowledge of plumbing and faucets, and after feeling overwhelmed, I asked her for a small, wall calendar by her desk in an effort to clear my mind.  It was then, she opened up.

“I need something blank like that to look at too,” she said, “I use it when my small one begins to look too messy.” I smiled and agreed, thinking of it as a metaphor for clearer perspectives in life, when she withdrew her hand and suddenly bumped her elbow hard on the counter, wincing in pain all up and down the length of her tattooed arm.

As I looked on with empathy, she said, “Oh, this is nothing compared to when my dog comes at me.”  “He’s a rescue and sometimes, like last night, it gets really bad, but then later, we cuddle together, and it’s all worth it.”

It was then I got a glimpse of her spirit and courage for the first time.  The emotion on her face, the sincerity of her words.  Here were the eyes of the soul reflecting the person who had been, albeit temporarily, missing in action.

After we talked a bit about her strength and willingness to take on a rescue, I finalized the delivery date, and walked out feeling somewhat uplifted by our conversation.

However,  when I approached my car and turned back to look at the store, the feeling soon faded as an eerie familiarity suddenly fell over me, and images flashed through my memory bringing me back to a traumatic event involving a shooting on the news a few years ago at this very place.  It seemed as if the vapors from the smoke of the gunfire still emanated under the cracks of this storefront, or, perhaps, from the hearts and minds of the people who still worked here.

As I sat in my car, I thought about the conversation I had with the salesperson and wondered, “Had she been here the day of the shooting?  Was she a trauma survivor attempting to rescue herself by adopting a rescue who was traumatized, acting out by jumping (and perhaps biting her), and in need of support, healing, and recovery?” Perhaps like the shooter may have been himself on that fateful day?

While on the drive home, the messiness cleared, and much like the blank calendar, my perspective cleared, and I came to some realizations.  Every day we carry the joys and burdens of our experiences into the workplace, at times, relying on the understanding, patience, and kindness of others to carry us through– one transaction, one PERSON at a time.  And, sometimes, we need the help of others to be seen, heard, and understood, or to be genuinely loved, in order to heal and restore our own spirit and the “Walking Dead”, of those spirits around us.


Marge Hentschel, LCSW-C
Marge Hentschel, LCSW-C
Marge Hentschel is a writer and consultant with experience in business and expertise in clinical social work, communities, and the mental health field. She worked in a corporate setting and in Human Resources as a Corporate Communicator for ten years before working as a freelance writer and editor in the non-profit sector for the United Way of Central Maryland, The House of Ruth, and other community organizations. She holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Professional Writing from the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts, and, after obtaining an M.S.W. from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, became a solo, mental health practitioner in Bel Air, Maryland, where she saw individuals, employees, couples, and families for over 20 years. Marge currently lives in Bel Air with her husband of 37 years, Dennis, and has two grown sons, Daniel and Matthew.

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  1. Very deep observation and interesting thoughts Marge,
    The blank faces that look right through us…
    And the ones we wear when we don’t want to be seen
    A state of mind will show up on the face and confusion is calling from the lost…I’ve been there…
    Not like the kind of Hollywood stare that sees you in the way to their destination and can’t stop for questions etc. It’s more like that of a child, who needs help and doesn’t know who to trust…
    This was what I started to think when reading this.
    Reminds me of something I wrote about…re mental health and “blank expressions”
    Thank you for this read my lady. Well thought out. We all need someone to really see further than what is on our face and not everyone has this great sight 🙏