I spend my days around people who use the word “they” like a metaphor to be feared, a blanket to cover their day and their worries. I listen to the sheltered bigotry of people who would never claim to be racist or sexist or classist.
They hate talking to cheap paki’s who try and bargain their way out of everything.
They hate talking to women who are rude enough to talk to their husbands while on the phone. How rude! They bellow.
They shake their heads, wondering why someone on disability would dare to have something like television, or dare to fall behind.
The incessant “I” that I hear, day after day, a lack of empathy not based in selling something, the rarity of someone else truly wanting to make the day better for another human being. In a week I’ve received really helpful renovation advice, details on the differences in heat in 4 countries, lessons on what’s ahead for me when the girls turn 13 or 14, and the giddy joy that comes from hearing someone smile over a phone line. I’ve had recommendations for books, for movies, even a good deal on a car if I ever happen to be in Oshawa and in need.
So somedays are more challenging. I’m not building a rocket ship. I’m not cutting into a baby’s heart. I’m solving simple issues at a desk, with a headset wrapped around my head. I’m doing what I want everyone else to do for me. I’m trying to help.
Say what you will about this shitty job-the last time you encountered TRULY horrid service, it ruined your day. It maybe ruined your week, colored your opinion of a company. But mostly, it just fucking sucked, right?
The overwhelming judgement covers me some nights, causing my eyes to flutter, and breath to pull up from beneath me.
I’m not immune. I have a particular…irritation with the dialet of the white, middle class 16-25 year old female. The second I hear it, I get angry. I find myself closing up.
So I take a breath, face my own judgement, which I will admit, is wrong 95% of the time, and I will soldier on, remembering that this girl is just flesh and blood and need, like everyone else.
Watching my coworkers really makes me wonder-what happens when I call somewhere? When I leave a store after having my issue dealt with? In person, am I just another fat old housewife? On the phone, am I just another woman too lazy to learn how to hook up her own electronics? Am I a bitch? Am I too poor?
Do we walk like this daily, awash in our assumptions, firm in a belief that we’re right, that it’s ok? Tidy in our small corners?
I hate it. I hate knowing that people live daily with a belief that their life is better, their skin, their money, and sleep well believing that they aren’t like that. They don’t hate “those” people. They have nothing against people on welfare, of course not. I look at my daughters and feel so incredibly sad that this type of “ism” is low lying in so many people-the very people who will smile and tell you that color doesn’t matter, gender is just a thing.
Those people grimace at you over the phone if you’re behind on bills because you’ve been sick and you need to make some changes. Those people will roll their eyes and call you names on mute because your accent is slightly difficult and they just can’t be bothered to try a little harder. Those people will refuse to see anyone not like them as human.
I don’t have the best job, I won’t solve world hunger. But I learn something-everyday, about people, about me, about treating people better, finding what they need, even if sometimes, it’s an ear to tell someone about the fiance they just had arrested for beating them, or how lonely their bedroom is without music, now that the divorce is final. I learn about engagements, the last day, ever, of school, the beauty of age between to lovers, 40 years in.
I am privy to so much that I could never dare to judge-every day, people give me far too many gifts.