Short Story: “Making You Feel Better”

There’s a secret that may well blow your entire world apart. “You wouldn’t recognize me, but you have seen me,” says the narrator of this story. “You’ve seen me many times. The day your partner left you. When you were fired from your job. The time you felt like you couldn’t go on…” So who are they? And what is their secret?
Homeless adult

Homeless adult man sitting on the street in the shadow of the building and begging for help and money. Problems of big modern cities. Indifference of people. Social issues. © Followtheflow /

March 11, 2024 02:37 EDT

Something to consider when reading/listening: Assuming your level of happiness remained the same, would you rather live in a world where everyone was happier than you or a world where you were happier than everyone else?

You wouldn’t recognize me but you have seen me. You’ve seen me many times.

The day your partner left you.

When you were fired from your job.

The time you felt like you couldn’t go on.

I’ve been there for several of your hangovers. And those times when you just feel bad for no reason.

There you are, walking along, lost in your internal inferno and bam, you see me. And you feel instantly better.

Sometimes, I’m a homeless man. Sometimes, I’m a woman with tears streaming down her face. Sometimes, I’m a shop assistant being berated by some angry idiot. Sometimes, I am the angry idiot.

I take many forms, that’s how it works. But whenever you need me I appear.

On the train platform. Outside your office. On a park bench. On the news.

I’m often on the news, with my bombed out city in the background, or talking about my missing child, or demonstrating my daily struggle with whatever illness or disease.

I’ve been there for you countless times before, and I am going to keep being there for you until you die. I’ll be one of the last people you ever see. The patient in the hospital bed next to yours with no one to visit me.

Whatever you need, I will provide it. As I always do.

I am the person who puts your misfortune into perspective.

I make you feel better, that’s my job. You see me and, no matter how bad your situation might seem, you think, “Alright, ok. Things could be worse.”

“Yeah,” you’ll say to yourself, “I can’t stand my job or my partner or my family or whatever it is. But at least I’m not that person.” At least you’re not me.

Whenever you feel that way, it’s me you’re feeling that way about. I am all of them. I am all the people you’ve ever looked at and thought, “At least I’m not them.”

I am the broken, the disposed, the cold, the angry, the whatever it is you need me to be at the exact moment you need it. I make you grateful you’re you and not me.

But I’ve got a secret. And I don’t think you’d be happy if you knew. I don’t think you’d be happy one bit.

My secret… is… I love my life. 

I do. I really, really do.

You’re not my only customer, obviously. I appear all around the world for all sorts of different people.

If a victim of fraud is bemoaning the loss of their savings, there I’ll appear in my rags, head slumped, asking for change.

If an ex-model is suddenly feeling ugly, I’ll pop up with my liver spots and protruding jaw.

If an athlete has pulled their hamstring, I’ll roll into view in my wheelchair.

New York in the morning, Beijing in the afternoon. I can be anywhere for anybody.

I stop people jumping off bridges and handing in notices.

I am what keeps the world going. I have the most important job in the known universe. And I love it. I really do.

But I’ll never be able to tell you this.

My suffering is what makes yours bearable.

My life is what makes you appreciate your own.

I am the misery that reminds you that no matter how bad things seem, they could be a hell of a lot worse.

And if you found out I was happy, well, what would you do then?

[Doe Wilmann first released this piece on his short story podcast, Meaningless Problems.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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