Be careful of what you say and do to others. Here are a few quick stories from different times and places involving people. Each gave me a jolt of surprise, followed by reflection, and compassion, then further chuckling.
I was once using a bar of soap to wash my hands and the bar didn’t lather well and had a strange consistency. I said something along the lines of
“This soap is garbage.”
To which the person responded:
I made it.”
I was using toilet paper in my own home, great image, and it was slightly better than using Christmas wrapping.
“Let’s not get this toilet paper again.”
To which my spouse responded:
“It was a house welcoming gift from my parents.”
I was having a beer at our local train station plaza with a friend. We frequently have random elderly residents approaching us to chat, or at least ask us where we are from as part of an ongoing anonymous survey, in Japanese.
Random elder: “Where are you from?”
Random elder: “Americans, French, Germans all look the same.”
Friend: “Yeah, pretty much.” (tsk tsk)
These comments are quite frequent from the local elders. We could respond with something similar from our point of view, but they are quite old so we let it slide and move forward with the casual conversation.
Last weekend we enjoyed one of the last comfortable temperature local train station beers before the Winter cold sets in deep. An elderly lady approached us, and started talking to my friend’s children. The children eventually ran away so she started asking us questions after revealing that she was 82 years old.
Random elder #2: “Where are you from?”
Random elder #2: “Canada and America are the same. What is your name?”
Me: “********.” (secret)
Random elder #2: “That sounds like a dog’s name.” (while chuckling)
She really seemed to enjoy talking to us, or perhaps anyone. Then, her apparent son, older than me, came by bike and started pulling her away and telling her to come home. Based on the body language, it seemed like she wasn’t meant to be out and about chatting with us on Saturday night. They left.
Shortly thereafter, a policeman on a bicycle arrived and was questioning our Japanese spouses about us – across the plaza with beers in hand. It turns out that someone called the police on us for ‘giving an old lady a hard time.’ Little did he know, she was the one who approached and dished out insults to us!
And the next day, there was a local Halloween party in my neighborhood. We were looking for my spouse’s friend when my spouse alerted me to a costume, one of the few adults wearing a costume, and who was a tall, skinny ‘foreigner;’
Look! It’s ‘Weak Superman.’
My spouse has the purist heart, and so it still makes me laugh when I think about this straight insult with a simple descriptive adjective serving up the familiar character. Something tells me his intentions weren’t to be the ‘weak’ version of Superman, and will make me forever reconsider my costume options in the future if I participate again.
What adjectives could you apply to costumes that you have seen? This could be a website in itself perhaps.
Enjoy life and be kind to everyone. You never know who or what may be around the corner!
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