I spent the morning being angry, which was no fun. Then I went to the rehab pool, which is hard work. I got dressed. Rook loaded me up into the care, and then I drove by myself trying to feel happy about being independent.
There are people who take pleasure in petty power. You find them behind desks, smug & obtuse. This guy was trying to make me mad by making me wait. And he was doing it to everyone else there too. To old ladies balancing on quad canes so bent over they could hardly lift their heads to see ahead of them. What is the point? Looking everywhere but at the people waiting. Ignoring all the people who were politely trying to just check in and go use the pool or who had a simple question. Finally it was my turn. And believe me I show no impatience in those situations and am extremely polite; but the guy who was there after me had made subtle eye contact with me and there was an obvious body language thing where I backed up to let him go first because he was in more difficulty. It was clear it was a huge effort for him to lift up his arm with the pool check-in card, and the guy behind the desk just ignored his request and dithered around and then deliberately cold shouldered him to turn to me. I told him to help the other guy first. The guy behind the desk acted angry. OMG! Horrible. I realized he was doing that thing that people do when they know very well that you need what they have, and you'll have to ask them for help. That sort of person takes pleasure in being frustrating and cruel, and making you mad, then watching you be humiliated at having to ask for things, unable to express your anger.
I don't understand it.
Anyway this random dude was hating on me and I was hating on him and trying to keep my temper. Then I came out of the locker room and realized he was now on shift as the lifeguard. And he was nasty to me again pointlessly. Then when I had to get out he was there smirking to help me. Smirking!
It was so petty, and so meaningless. But those things happen all the time. People sometimes help you out of meanness, to make you feel small. They add an extra kick as they throw you a penny.
It was a bit like Widmerpool suddenly being head of the War Office, and Jenkins realizing he had the power of life and death over everyone they knew to assign them to deadly war zones vs. desk jobs, and Widmerpool's obvious pleasure in that, very much in miniature.
Normally I'm good about pointing out something like that bluntly and with some humor attached. Today I just clung to the side of the pool and bicycled my legs quietly and painfully as I looked around at the pool full of old people I was in there with and thought about all the shit they take.
All my fury, all my fierce entitlement, the good kind of it that believes all of us get to be treated like human beings, am I going to lose that? And learn to swallow it? Like they do?
Because I'll have to?
I don't think so. Instead I resolve to not take any bullshit.
There in the pool I thought of the way Medicare doesn't pay for wheelchairs that are "intended for use outside of the home" thus dooming thousands and thousands of people who believed in "independent living" to a life of house arrest. Filled with rage... I bicycled my legs and looked out the window at the kids playing soccer in the fields outside and the gorgeous blue sky and the maple leaves blazed against everything, and thought of how things were in the Astrodome and realized I have to call on that sort of strength in myself to deal with people in my daily life.
There are kind people everywhere, people who work in hospitals and bring you warm blankets and seem conscious that such a simple act could alleviate real suffering. And then there are people who leave you lying naked in cold rooms on metal tables, with your wheelchair pushed out of the way and out of reach across the room, and the door shut, while they order tests or check with medical records or look for a file, and who act angry with you in advance to quash any expectation you might have of being treated decently, people who are having a shitty time and who take it out on others.
I like to think that no matter what kind of bad day I'm having I would choose to be the first kind of person. Also, that as in the Astrodome, behaving decently towards people and insisting on being treated decently yourself, spreads like ripples of sanity and helps everyone.
Silently enduring bad treatment only sets a bad example to everyone else around you, not just the people who should be told off, but the other people being treated badly. I think of how I went off on this woman at a bus stop once when she was pinching her little kid's inside of the arm black and blue and I realized how futile yelling at her would be but did it anyway because the kid would get that voice of outside validation that abuse wasn't okay.
I wrote all the letters of the alphabet in the water with my right leg, and thought of people get old and disabled and sick and don't know how to speak up for themselves, in little situations or big ones, and how silence and shame conspire to kill people body & soul.
Oh also I'm so totally pms-ing that it's not even funny.
Bring me the megaphone, and some chocolate, and I'll conquer the world from bed, okay?