Paranoid about being misunderstood
April 20, 2016 2:00pm CST
A month or so ago I was doing some conservation work with a team of people, some of whom I had never met before. One young woman only had one hand. We were working in teams of three or four, coppicing hazel bushes, and after the hard work was finished we selected some specimens to label so that we will be able to monitor their progress over the next year. We had tied labels to the first few ‘stools’ (I’m afraid MyLot may censor this term) when we realised that one of them was in fact two very close together so we would have to relabel, which meant untying the tightly-tied string to remove the incorrect labels beyond that one and replacing them. The young woman started unpicking the first knot and I said ‘Can you manage that?’ because untying knots tied tightly in thin string is difficult - but then as soon as I’d said it, it occurred to me that she probably thought I meant ‘Can you manage that with only one hand?’ when in fact I would have said the same thing to anyone. I wanted to explain that but I knew that would only draw more attention to the subject and make everyone feel worse! Last week I was in town with Big One and we were walking down the street when another young woman came towards us. I found myself looking at her because she was wearing a coat very similar to mine, which I had thought was probably rather outmoded, but if a fashionable young woman was wearing one I thought perhaps it was still OK (or the fashion has come round again!) but anyway I had been looking at her perhaps rather more than was polite when I noticed she had only one arm. Then I noticed that Big One was also looking at her rather intently. After we had passed I asked why she had been staring at the woman and she replied that she thought she recognised her as an author and presenter of children’s TV. I can imagine that the woman in question may have thought we were both staring at her because of her brachial status when in fact that wasn’t true at all. Now I’m starting to get paranoid about my words and actions being misinterpreted. Sometimes human relations do seem very complicated!
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