Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Bristle of Unspoken Antagonism

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She was well dressed and sat prim and ramrod straight in one of the few high-backed chairs in the waiting room. The others in that room looked slightly frazzled but tried not to show how sick they felt. A mother read quietly to her son. A young man toyed with his phone. An elderly couple sat and talked softly amongst themselves.

Her middle-aged face stole disparaging glances at everyone only to dismiss each one with a sneer. None of us seemed to pass muster in her eyes.

I knew I’d soon get that dismissive look. It


so happened that I looked at her over the top of my magazine at the same moment she looked at me. I calmly went back to reading. After that, she kept glancing at me. I ignored her but knew she was rattled. Something seems to be burning her up, I thought with an inward shrug. 

The magazine article on six steps to happiness was making me sleepy. I wondered again when it would be my turn to see the doc. I gave up on the article, scanned other pages cursorily and flipped the magazine shut. Step number seven, I thought - if there’s nothing interesting to read, rest your eyes and mind. I gave a pleased stretch at my decision and yawned. My arms, stiffly outstretched, took an extra second to come down and cover my mouth.

I sensed her head whip around to look at me sharply. Then I knew what she wanted. She wanted an excuse to find fault with me. She didn’t like being dismissed and felt disadvantaged. Her disapproving face made it obvious that yawning without covering one's mouth was inappropriate behavior in a medical waiting room. For her, any excuse to show disapproval would’ve sufficed. I've witnessed it often in the melting pot that is our city. I also know, for every one of her there are hundreds unfazed by physical differences in appearance.

She looked sideways at the lady sitting next to her, a quick look of scornful amusement before pretending to cover it up with bland insouciance. She couldn’t help looking at me for a fraction of a second before her eyes slid away. She wanted to see if she’d made me uncomfortable. The lady sitting by her looked at her and then at me, slightly puzzled. She seemed decent, and I didn’t want her involved or put in an awkward situation. 

“That’s me,” I said with relief, turning to acknowledge Dr. Lim with a smile. He’d just walked out of his consulting rooms and called out my name.

Good timing, doc, I thought as I hurried after him.

9 comments:

  1. We come across all kinds of people, but none should be allowed to rattle us:)

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  2. Oh, I love heckling such people ! The side lookers, the starers. I usually stare right back till I make them uncomfortable !

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    1. I first feel the need to acknowledge they exist, even if they might just be a handful in every community. If I am able to understand and explain their motives which stem from suspicion of someone different, it leaves me free to feel charitable and move on.

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  3. It is a person who sees no reason to respect herself/himself AS a person who generally has to see others as inferior in order to feel respect for the self, in my opinion. More to be pitied than censured :)

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    1. Yes, SC, that could well be their reason. My reason for writing this post - we tend to keep these little slurs to ourselves and I think we should acknowledge they exist so that people (especially youngsters, who come across behaviour like that for the first time, are better able to cope. Luckily, the ones who aren't fazed by different others exist in far larger numbers.

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  4. Behaviors depends on each single person accordingly. It may be positive and negative as well. What we need to do is to be confident enough to cope up with those. Well written article. Loved it.

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  5. Most welcome dear....Keep posting with lots more...

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