Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who Am I Becoming??

I am very disturbed by my behaviour. I am concerned about how I reacted. I am worried that maybe I am changing. I don't ever want to become bitter, I don't want to be one of those constantly angry people who are pleased at the plight of others. Here's my confessional ...

We were going south on Yonge Street, just up ahead was a popular store. Unlike other stores in the area it has ribs. I don't know how else to describe it. The windows and the walls where they are located are recessed, and then it juts out sharply about a foot for about a foot and then indents again for another window. The 'ribs' are brightly painted and easy to see.

A man, walking with his wife, noticed me as I came along behind them. The stare began there. I had slowed, to let someone pass, so he had to turn a bit more to keep his eyes glued to the sight of me. I saw it coming. Clearly saw it coming. He'd wandered over and was only a couple feet from running smack into the brick wall. In my heart I knew that I should indicate to him that he was going to hit the wall. I knew I had time. I knew he was walking at a speed that would end up in some pain when he hit it.

His eyes bore into my soul.

Yet he would never see the turmoil there.

The time ticked on, seemingly slowed.

I moved my hand to indicate 'watch out' ... his eyes roamed over the size of me.

My hand fell back.

He crashed into the wall.

His wife, startled by what happened, she'd been talking on the phone and didn't notice him wandering over, blew up at him. Why was he never paying attention? Why did he constantly embarrass her? She just lit into him.

I rolled by, looked at him, and smiled.

GOTCHA

Through the whole thing I was disturbed by what I was doing. But that disturbance, this time, wasn't enough to prod me to do the right thing. I just couldn't. I told myself that his safety wasn't my responsibility - what a horrible idea.

I admit it felt good, having the stare end with some kind of punishment. Yes it felt good but only for a few seconds.

That enjoyment was short lived.

It's replaced by worry.

I don't want to be the kind of person that just lets an accident happen.

Am I at the edge of the slippery slope? Am I just done with being stared at and objectified? I don't know. But this public post is my way of saying to you, and to myself, that it's my job, as a human being, to stay, constantly humane.

His behaviour did not excuse mine.

I know it doesn't work that way.

Now I have to work at remembering that fact.

18 comments:

liebjabberings said...


Likely he would not have realized or heeded your warning.

This does not excuse you, but I think you are assuming you actually could have made a difference.

Now, just do your schadenfreude privately (public grinning at other people's pain is discouraged).

You felt guilty fairly quickly afterward - that's the good part. But I think you would have had to make a huge fuss to get him to listen to you before that - and he might have hit the wall anyway, and would then have blamed YOU for distracting him.

The punishment for his bad behavior didn't come from you.

Now, in contrition, say a little prayer, such as 'Dear God, I hope that knocked some sense into him.'
ABE

Glee said...

Bahahahaha Dave. Love it and sometimes karma just takes care of stuff. I had an instance of this sort of thing many years ago.
My then husband, my brother and I were getting out of the car and unloading my wheelchair from the back. I was still in my seat as I watched two young women run back to their car which was parked in a reserved crip spot. I challenged them and she told me to get stuffed etc. I continued to challenge her. She put her car into reverse while still yelling at me. All three of us watched her reverse and we ALL knew where she was headed. NONE of us warned her about what we saw was going to happen. She reversed quickly and angrily into a big solid bollard. BAHAHAHA gee did we laugh at her! She swore some more and drove off.

I think she came back later and kicked my wheelchair carrier as there was a big footprint on part of the metal when we got back!

Dunno about god but karma fixed this one. And I loved it.

Call it natural justice Dave, and just smile :)

Rachel said...

I was reading a piece a little while back by an African-American woman about empathy erosion. She was saying that she feels less and less empathy for the pain of white people because socially and politically, there is so little empathy for the pain of black people. She feels like she's been having deep empathy for years for people who care very little about her situation.

I think that some of that is going on here. You've been the recipient of so much crap from able-bodied, normatively sized people and it's natural you'd feel ground down and too tired to care. I'm not sure what the solution is, because I hear you on not wanting to become bitter and unempathetic. But perhaps the beginning of the solution is to cut yourself some slack and see why you're feeling this way. I think it's easier to turn back to the right path when you realize why you ended up on the wrong one. You're only human, after all.

Anonymous said...

I think it's good to have these little wake-up calls once in a while. I don't want to be the kind of person who would take satisfaction in the misfortune of others, no matter how it comes about. I am my brothers keeper, even if my brother doesn't hold up his end. Viewing people through a bitter filter doesn't change them and makes me feel diminished.

Andrea S. said...

Dave,

Sorry this is off topic for this post, but I thought you would find that this blog post by an emerging disability blogger resonates for you:

http://claimingcrip.blogspot.com/2013/08/going-in-main-entrance-or-access-and.html

Andrea S.
http://ramblingjustice.wordpress.com
http://andreashettle.tumblr.com

The Shorter Bloggess said...

I guess you will never know if he would even have paid attention to your warning.

When walking around town with a friend of mine, who has a disability and uses a wheelchair, there was a man walking ahead of us with his family. He caught sight of my friend. He turned around and walked backwards for at least 50 paces so he could have a good long stare at my friend.

In my opinion if he had fallen over it would have been his own fault for being so rude.

Despite this, I do see where you are coming from. It does us good to be compassionate to all people, even the really rude ones.

Jayne Wales said...

I see what you are saying but you know he was responsible for himself. My old Catholic nan would have said the "devil did that to you for being horrible!"
So it wasn't you. It was bad Karma or the devil. You're excused.
He won't do it again too quickly.
I know 2 wrongs don't make a right, another great cliche but oh so it does sometimes.
Maybe you old have hollered " hey with a few more bigoted steps youre heading for a cropper!" But you didn't and enough said!.

Anonymous said...

Dave,
No matter how many people comment on here and say that he deserved it, it will not change your view.

In your heart, you know that you did wrong, you could have and should have warned him.

However, don't beat yourself up about it. It just proves that you are human. You had a short time to react and didn't do it. He was not seriously hurt. You will learn from it and move on.

Jim

n. said...

This makes sense. Also I remember that article, maybe it was by Black Girl Dangerous?

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Don't beat yourself up. You are right, you do have to decide who you are and how you want to behave regardless of what other people do and how they behave. You are only human, Dave. I can see how being stared at would wear a person down. From what I know of you, you are a very empathetic person. Learning opportunity - for the rude man and for you. Let's hope he has at least a fraction of your capacity for introspection!

Colleen

Rachel said...

To n. -- Yes, it was Black Girl Dangerous. Here is the link:

http://blackgirldangerous.org/new-blog/2013/4/22/hey-white-liberals

It's a good and very honest read about how not being treated with empathy tends to erode empathy. I know that a lot of people feel judgmental about what she has to say, and believe that we should have empathy no matter what. In a perfect world, or even in a world in which people are treated with some baseline of empathy, that's true. In the world we live in, people get ground down and have their hearts broken in the cruelest ways and it's difficult to keep the flow of lovingkindness going sometimes. That's human.

S Bogart said...

Dave... I am going to be honest here.... I did not feel sorry for the man. Sometimes, folks need a wake up call. Maybe this will be his, but likely not. Ignorance is so prevalent in our society that it would take more than a little mishap with a window box to jolt some common sense and decency into some folks. We all make choices we are not proud of from time to time, we learn from them and try not to repeat them.

Jeannette said...

Dave, I understand your concern. My suggestion is that you give it a bit more thought -- oh, maybe two minutes' worth -- and then let it go, forgive yourself. And if you're wondering exactly what to ponder in those two minutes, ask yourself just what you could have done or said to stop him from bashing into that thing.
Just because you see something happening does not mean you can prevent it.
I have just said a prayer for that man -- he's rudely oblivious to others' feelings, and he apparently lives with a woman who seems like quite a harridan. That does not excuse his behavior, of course, but it doesn't sound like a very good life.

wheeliecrone said...

No, Dave.
You are human. You have imperfections.
Just like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Dave, it's not your job to prevent the Universe from teaching people the lessons they need to learn.

That man needed a good, hard smack into a brick wall to remind him not to stare and judge. You almost prevented the Universe from getting that message across in a crystal clear, painful way.

All I'm saying is, sometimes you need to sit back and let the Universe do its job.

Sue

Mark Pathak said...

Nah, I smiled reading this one!! Just a pity I was not there to see it unfold.....perhaps its UK humour.....but I loved it!!

Anonymous said...

That sounds tired, to me.

You should have spoken, effectively or not. Still, your disturbed mood suggests it's not the first step on the slippery slope. Just a bit of weariness.

If it's still bothering you, accept the lesson, give your weariness some tlc, and let it go.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you did the best thing in the world for him. He acted stupidly and there are consequences for that. Maybe he'll think next time and that will save him from something worse.
Plus, you knew the guy wouldn't get really hurt. You just took momentary refuge in watching a fool get to feel foolish. Wanting a bit of fairness is just as valid as anything else. You may have prevented him from being cruel to someone less able to take it.