January 13th, 2017

cuteangst

Awkward

Back when we were heading up north to visit family for Christmas, our bus arrived at the train station early, and our train was running late. So we had a lot of time to sit and hang out while we waited to continue our journey. Meanwhile, other buses were still arriving, so people were constantly coming into the station. As we sat there in our matching jackets, one woman came into the station, noticed us, and smiled. Pleased, I commented to Athena about how we can make people happier just by being around. And Athena responded, "Yeah, until one of us opens her mouth."

The truth of her statement was illustrated a little while later, after the train arrived. The station attendants had told us repeatedly over the PA system that when the train got there, we would have to wait for all the passengers to get off, then give them about fifteen minutes to clean the train before they let us on. Nevertheless, there had been a mass exodus from the station, and it was making us a little eager to get close to the train, too. So we went outside, looked around, and found a place we figured it would be okay to stand around without bothering anybody. As we made our way over there, I said, "We'll just go stand over here, out of the way."

The problem is I paused before I said, "Out of the way," so it didn't sound like it was part of another thought when it came out. And one of the station attendants, who happened to be passing by right at the moment of the pause, apologized and quickened her pace. But I wasn't telling her to get out of the way--I was talking about how I wanted to make sure I was out of the way. And thus we see my penchant for accidentally acting extremely entitled and very much a whatever -ist you can think of. I am the queen of unintentional microaggressions.

Let me refer you to example number 2. We were at the grocery store. I don't remember if it was an especially crowded day or not, but the point is, we were following our usual route through the store and turned to go into an aisle. I saw a family in the aisle and turned around, saying, "We'll just go to a different aisle." We don't like shopping in aisles with other people in them. Call it an introvert thing, call it a personal space thing, call it shyness, call it whatever you want, but generally if there's even one other person in an aisle at the grocery store, we prefer to wait for them to finish and come back later, so none of us will get in each other's way. But I really should have not said anything as we left, because I realized after I said it that the family was black. I can promise you up and down that I would have had the same reaction if it was a bunch of white people, but they don't know that. All I can do is hope they didn't hear me, or hope that if they did it didn't ruin their day. Maybe they have similar personal space issues, and so understood the real reason I said what I did.

Of course, there are other times when I think it would really count as not just a microagression, but a downright insult. Observe example number 3.

We'd just finished another day at Disneyland with Gaston, and for whatever reason we decided to walk all the way back to the parking lot instead of taking the tram. (It probably had something to do with crowds.) For whatever other reason, we were talking about going slow. This may also have had something to do with the crowds. But Athena said, "At least it's not as slow as our little sister walking home from school." I remembered the absolute frustration we had, when we'd be like a whole block ahead of her and we'd have to stop and wait, and I replied, "Oh my GOSH can anything be so SLOW!" Then we went on to talk about other people who have had a tendency to walk slower than a snail.

And our good, kind friend Gaston waited until we were away from a certain group of people to inform us, "I think that person in the wheelchair thought you were talking about them." Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!! Thanks for telling us when we could have apologized, Gaston! I totally didn't even see them. I have no idea what this person looked like or how many people were in their group or anything--their existence didn't even register in my mind. ...Of course, that could be considered rude for other reasons, but generally when you're surrounded by a crowd of people, you're not going to notice every single person around you. It's like the "how many waitresses" question in Noragami.

So I guess the moral of the story is to be more aware of the people around you. And also to be forgiving of people when they say stupid stuff...is my humble plea.

Today I'm thankful for my Chip blanket, realizing last night that we weren't out of chocolate after all, the mini Kit-Kats we bought several weeks ago, progress picking up on today's Fire Force edit, and not living in an area with face-eating parasites.
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