We were having a lovely lunch, on a lovely sunny day, with a lovely afternoon ahead of us. The food had just arrived, and closely following the waiter was a group of forty something friends. The took a table just behind me, a little to my right. They were a rowdy bunch, laughing heartily at stories that sounded oft told. I don't mind happy noises. People together laughing and having a good time, children whooping as they play, burst of laughter erupting uncontrolled into the air, these almost never bother me.
Suddenly I heard mention of 'spreading asscheeks' and my attention was called away, dog to a squirrel, without my bidding. I was hearing a story told by a woman, with great dramatic effect, about something 'disgusting' she had to do at work in her job with an elderly man. She was a gripping storyteller, no doubt, she was clearly using both the graphic nature of the story and the lunchtime setting to create the kind of discomfort that, used well, can lead to hilarity.
It was his butt.
And that's private.
She mentioned only his first name, which I'm not going to repeat here, so she probably thought that she was following the rules of privacy. However I'm sure he would have been horrified to know that he was the subject of such a ribald and, again, graphic story. Further, her story presented him as disgusting and dirty object and her the poor soul burdened with the job of cleaning up after him. Questions were asked, answers were given. She described a few of the things that she had to do for him, poor dirty soul that he was.
A couple of those things, I need help with.
I was sitting there.
Listening to how horrifying it was to help someone one with socks and shoes.
Listening to how disgusting it was to clip toenails.
Listening to how degrading it was to help another, older, person.
I need to be clear that the whole thing was told in a humourous manner, facts played for laughs. And laughs she got, along with gasps, along with 'oh nos' and 'how awful' regularly punctuating the story.
When we left they had move on to other topics of discussion.
I believe that there is honour in working in service to others. I believe that there is a place for humour and for letting loose. But I believe that there is also a place for privacy, and respect, and all times a consciousness of the humanity of the people who need and who receive support.
She paid for lunch with the money she made from serving a man that she holds up to ridicule. I wonder if she ever thinks about the fact that his needs allow her to meet her needs and that his rights don't end when her shift does.