I don't know what it is, but when something bad happens to someone who has been shitty to us, we feel the need to sympathize with them....or maybe it's just me.
I worked with this late 50s or early 60s guy who pretends he is much younger. A Harley-riding, Extreme mountain biking kind of guy. At work he was a mean in a Castro-esque kind of way (although not in charge of anyone so maybe not like Castro). He would yell and scream at us all and say we were a team, except that all of his issues must be a priority. I understand that our customers need material on time to do their jobs, but he wouldn't accept minute delays or any sort of compromise. I tried my best to get along with him to try and ease the situation. I asked him about his bikes and loaned him my Bjork CD (which I think he might still have). It didn't matter.
But then one day he arrived at work, sat down at his desk, stared at his computer and sort of mashed his keyboard. He got up to get a drink and couldn't position the cup to catch the water. After a while, some co-workers took notice and took him over to the hospital. Turns out that while he was Extreme Biking he turned his head weirdly and it broke a blood vessel in his brain, causing a stroke. As strokes can do, it damaged the left side of his body, which is devastating to a lefty like him. He has been off work for a couple of years, and his rehab has been going very slowly so he may not be back at all. He came in the other day and I found myself feeling sorry for him. He could barely lift his left hand and his left leg was drag-behindy. <- new word, feel free to use it.
Why do I feel bad for a guy who was always on my case or putting me down? Since he has been gone, although my job isn't the best, nobody else gets in my face the same way. In addition, his being off has allowed everyone to move up a rank, thus me getting a promotion into a job I had coveted for some time. Is it just human nature?