Being sick isn't fun. I got a bug on the road that I've not been able to shake. We drove 16 hours straight to get home so I could get in to see the doctor. End result? I've been grounded from travel for a couple of weeks while tests get run and doctors get seen. I hate having to cancel trainings and apologize, again, to those I've let down. So, on top of being sick I feel horrible about the inconvenience that my illness has caused others. (Joe insists I say here that I don't have anything life threatening - he says he gets weary of people hearing I'm sick and morphing that into rumours of my demise.) Not a great time for me.
People don't know this of course.
That's how weak I am right now, I thought that a good excuse.
I was coming back from the doctor, note in hand about travel, a bag full of bottles to collect samples (it's not a sample, it's a disgusting bottle, actually several bottles, full of poo) when a tour bus pulled up beside me. It's one of those double decker buses that take tourists through the downtown core. I heard the young woman, who was giving the tour, her voice echoing in the cavernous space between two large buildings, about something historic. I looked up to see what she was talking about. I shouldn't have looked. I had every right to look, but, I shouldn't have looked.
Instead of looking at where she was pointing, several tourists were looking at, pointing at, aiming cameras at me. I may be old but I'm not historic. I immediately rushed ahead, leaving Joe in the dust as I raced to get away from those freaking cameras. I don't want to end up a fat meme on the Internet. I raced to get away, I'll admit it, from the points and the stares and the laughter too.
I found myself strangely really, really, hurt by this. Now this isn't new. This is something I go through regularly, daily even. These tour buses are something I know are inherently dangerous to the different and I've got strategies for dealing with the situation and the nastiness that comes with it. But I used none of them. I'm not feeling well. I'm also feeling really vulnerable from having to cancel some lectures I was looking forward to giving.
And then, amazingly, I told myself, in a forgiving tone, that they didn't know that it was a hard day for me. I forgot that, well or not, sick or not, vulnerable or not, it's not acceptable to treat other people as if they are spectacles on display as if they are the freaks in the show. It's not acceptable to point at, stare at, laugh at, people simply going about their business.
I had to shake myself and remind myself that being hurt is a natural response to being targeted by mean people. My level of personal vulnerability is of no concern to them because they shouldn't be purposely setting out to humiliate a stranger.
It's not my fault.
I know that.
But I have a helluva hard time remembering it.