Sunday, April 10, 2016

On A Roll ... Couldn't Stop

Image description: the words 'just a little' written in black above the word 'Respect' in green with the 'c' turned into the disability symbol.

Yesterday was a day of confrontations. I don't know why. I even shocked myself. It started innocently enough. Joe and I were heading down to the movies to meet up with Mike and the girls. A few blocks south of us, a fellow makes an ignorant remark about me and my weight. Joe hears it and tenses. He doesn't tense because of what he's afraid I'll do, he tenses because he fears what he one day might do. I had been smiling and laughing and having a good time anticipating the movie. It was sunny for heavens sake. And then this ugliness gets thrown at me.

I stopped.

Backed up quickly.

He was walking, with his friend, slowly.

I zipped passed them, backwards.

And stopped.

"Why did you do that? Why did you decide to be completely rude to a total stranger? I have never done anything to you?"

My tone demanded an answer.

"Oh, was I rude? Soooorrrryy," he said mockingly. His friend looked mortified. I used that. "You know, right now your friend here is ashamed of being with you. He won't tell you because you're a bully. But he can't even look at you." What I said was true, his friend was looking in a window wishing he was a mile away.

I rolled back to Joe who said before I could say anything, "I understand, I really do."

I figured that was it.

It wasn't.

My blood was up.

After the movie, "The Little Prince", we went down for lunch in the food court. They've got a place that makes these amazing 5 spiced tofu and mushroom sandwiches, it's hot and it's spicy and it's, literally, a taste sensation. It's my go to there. Everyone else was at different locations, so I went to order my sandwich and headed back to them. I went by two women, early twenties, who whispered in tones that I was supposed to hear, "Like a pig at a trough."

I'd had my confrontation for the day so let it go. But when I went back to pick up my sandwiches, they made a similar remark as I went by them again. I got my sandwich. I rolled back towards them, but came to a stop. My heart was beating like crazy and my mind was 'what the fuck are you doing?' I just stared at them. For several seconds, just stared. I rolled up to them. They were looking wild with discomfort. Bullies don't expect those they consider weak or lesser to assume the role of equal. "You know I was looking at you both," I said, quietly, "trying to figure out what makes you so mean and hateful. But you look so incredibly ordinary. Then I wondered if that's what you are afraid of, that you ARE incredibly ordinary, that there's nothing special about you, so you need to lash out at others. Well, you are on the path to deeply ordinary, well on that path." And I left.

And, no, I'm not done.

We stopped at the grocery store where we always shop to get stuff to make my Mexican Casserole in a Pot recipe. After we got in and went down the elevator, we stopped where we always stop to take our hats, gloves and coats off. A fellow, my age, was walking towards me, staring at me with his mouth nearly hanging open. Joe glanced at me to get a hint at what was going to happen. As he neared me, which he had to do to get to the elevator, I waved at him, called out to him, "Hello!" He, caught out, waved back. I asked, "So why do you think it's OK to stare at people? Why is that good with you." Now everyone was staring at me, and I didn't care. They were staring at someone not putting up with shit.

I got home exhausted. Partly because the movie, itself, is emotionally draining. But mostly because I don't usually do that. Oh, I speak up from time to time but I don't typically take on virtually everyone who centred me out or attempted to shame me with their remarks. I'd never make it anywhere on time if I took on all of them!

But, I just was in the mood to be treated with respect. I wanted people to know that I see them, I hear them and that what they do affects how I see them. People always think that the issue is how I look when they don't understand that the issue is how THEY look.

And someone needs to point that out every now and then.

Yesterday, was my day on the job.


Frank_V said...

The Facebook "Heart" setting on this post is for you Dave. I have only contempt and anger for those bullies you encountered.

While people admire and worship superstars in sports and movies, YOU sir Dave, are my HERO!

If I were good at sewing, I'd make a Super Hero costume for you! Seriously. And if you must encounter strangers today, may they mirror back the love in you. You MUST be a very loving person, because if it were me, I would have rolled over a few of those bullies.

leslie sobel said...

I think there's a lot to be said for speaking up. Reminds jerks that the person they are being mean to is an actual person. Hope the emotional toll isn't too great. I would never presume to tell you or anyone else how to handle this stuff - I think you have to do what feels most empowering and personally satisfying when facing this kind of mean-spirited crap. (and also am personally cheering you giving htem what-for!)

Unknown said...

Good on you! I wish you and Joe didn't have to deal with that I started reading today I had a mental picture of that substance being flung at you....and I'm so glad that you deflected it right back at them, politely. I've often wondered what these experiences are like for Joe, I think this is the first time you have mentioned him in one of these episodes. I imagine it is very difficult for him, too.
To Frank V's Super Hero cape, I'd add a large shield and a slingshot, to protect you from verbal bombs and to fling them back again!
And superheroes have ordinary identities, too. They don't take on every single bad act, you don't have to, either.

Celebrating Phoenix said...

It's very emotional to speak up. I've started doing it more and more lately, usually to children who stare at my daughter and make ignorant and hateful comments ("I don't like her. She's scary. She's evil"). That was 3 weeks ago, the latest time my bald child with Down syndrome was noticed by others. It's not ok to be ugly to others because they are different. It's just not. I wish there was a better way to open minds than to talk to them one by one, but if there is, I haven't found it.