Conversations that aren’t mutual aren’t OK.

I was going out into the stacks to get the paging slips the other day. I passed by a patron who likes to talk at me. It isn’t really with me, because it isn’t really a two-way conversation. He has some interesting things to say, but I have a job to do. I’m not going to get it done by talking (or listening) to everybody who comes in.

When I’m at the front desk I’m kind of trapped. When I’m in the stacks I can walk away, and I do. I’ll listen for a bit, and then I have to go.

This patron said “How come you weren’t there to greet me when I came in this morning?” He’s old, but he’s not an old regular. He’s been coming in for about half a year. We talk sometimes, but he’s not my friend.

This happens a lot.

He’s said things like this before, and I think he thinks he is being funny, but there is some entitlement going on here. He thinks he is special, and that he deserves special treatment. Note that he didn’t say “I’m sorry I missed you when I came in this morning.” The emphasis is on him getting greeted by me, not on us seeing each other. It isn’t an equal relationship. He is higher, in his mind.

I said I was at the chiropractor and then the dentist. I didn’t have to tell him any of that, but I don’t mind. It isn’t private. It wasn’t like I was at the gynecologist.

So he says that chiropractors just treat the symptoms. I say “Not this one”. I used to think chiropractors were quacks, but this one has changed my mind. These realignments are healing me.

Mental problems can cause physical problems. Most people say that you can fix the physical problem by addressing the mental (emotional) problem that caused it. I’m starting to think it works both ways – that the mental (emotional) problem can be addressed by fixing the physical problem. I’m working on the mental (emotional) problem too. I’m thinking of it like I’m digging a tunnel through a mountain, but I’m working at it from both ends. I’ll get it completed in half the time this way.

But I didn’t want to get into any of this. I didn’t have time or the desire to have a deep conversation with this guy. He never changes his mind anyway. He’s one of those people who thinks he’s right, because he’s older.

So I walked away after he disagreed with me, while pushing my cart. I obviously have something I’m doing. He crooks his finger at me, and waves me back. I came back a step closer, but that was it. He continued with “Chiropractors just fix the symptoms” and I repeated “Not this one” and I realized that this was going nowhere.

I turned and walked away.

He might be mad, but he has to understand that I’m not there to be his audience or his student. I have not entered into a contract with him that says I’ll hang on his every word. Plus, I don’t like unequal relationships. If the opinions and feelings of both people are not equal, leave me out of it.

I didn’t ask for that conversation. So I felt no need to continue it. Years ago, I would have stayed, out of a sense of politeness or duty. I would have stayed, and felt trapped. I would have hated it too.

Glasses

I needed glasses at an early age, but I didn’t know it. Nobody knew it. I’d learned to adapt to my handicap. Imagine how much fuller my life would have been if people could have seen the signs and known to get me help.

In the meantime, I sat at the front of the class so I could see the board, and I learned to recognize people by how they walked, rather than how their face looked.

I wonder how many other things I’m missing out on. I wonder what else I am faking at and I don’t even know it. I wonder how many of us are like that, adapting, creating work-arounds, when there is a simple way through it. We think that our disability is normal, because we don’t know it is a disability, or we think that we just have to suffer with it because nobody has told us any differently. We either think we are normal and we aren’t, or we think we are unusual, and we aren’t.

I’m one of those people that needs someone to point out the obvious sometimes. Sometimes, something is so simple I don’t think of it. My head is in the clouds. I can see big things, but little things escape me.

Wonder if there are glasses for that? Perhaps I’m farsighted in life, where I’m nearsighted otherwise.

If glasses won’t help, then people can give you a cane, or make signs bigger, or you can use a guide dog.

But imagine, if you were born blind, and you didn’t know that there was such a thing as “sight”.

Imagine how the world was for Helen Keller when her teacher was finally able to unlock her mind, to let her know about words. She started to become a human being that day.

I’m constantly looking for ways that I’m blind, that I’m missing out. I share them here, with the hope that others will get something from it. Perhaps they will say “Ah! So that is what it is that I’m missing!” and their eyes will open too.

Old? Never.

When did my skin get so wrinkly?
When did my doctors get younger than me?
How did this happen?

When did all these young people around me become bit players in my life? When did I start looking at old people for signs of what to expect?

They are “computer illiterate” or using walkers or confused all the time.

I don’t want to become them. I don’t want to be helpless or hopeless or lost. I don’t want to be taken advantage of.

I’ve read that you are only as old as you feel, and that age is a social construct. I feel it knocking on my door.

I don’t want to answer.

I think it is time to pull out my crayons and my fingerpaints. I think I’m going to defeat age by becoming a child again.

It is part of why I tutor kindergartners. I’m learning tips.