A girl I met recently made me look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of the human condition.
To set the scene, I was volunteering for a company I had chosen to go with last year to help me work at a camp. The camp is in Canada with kids who experience the outdoors in ways of community, resilience, independence, and bearing the elements of the wilderness. It was very rewarding but no easy feat.
They needed some volunteers to help interview new candidates to do the same thing I had done. By having previous volunteers who had been overseas, this gave the new candidates the opportunity to learn things they may not have entirely understood during the orientation process.
The great thing about this company is that the experiences they provide are so varied. You can choose between Canada all the way through to Vanuatu even Ghana!
On the day of the interviews we all met each other in the first room. I had arrived a little early although not the first one. There were 2 others in the room. I acknowledged them and sat down.
This girl sitting 2 seats down starts to ramble on about her trip in Poland, neither myself or the other guy were listening to. I managed to hear her say “Where did you travel to?,” I squeezed in “Canada,” before she interrupted and continued talking about the interview process. Completely ignored by what I had to say. Even though she asked me.
I found out the guy next to me had been to Japan 4 years ago but there wasn’t much time to hear his story. We all introduced ourselves and I found out her name was L and his name was W.
Once the introduction went underway, we were instructed our duties as interviewers and the importance of our roles. All it be, a volunteer day itself. We were assured there would be a provided morning tea and coffee (or Hot Chocolate for the non-coffee drinkers).
The co-ordinator starts to delegate who will be with whom, and in my head I’m shouting “Please not with L!”.
“Okay and Ruth you’re with L on Panel C,” he said casually.
It was there that I wanted to walk out the door. I knew what this type of person was going to be. Yet I had to give her the benefit of the doubt.
“Nice to meet you,” I said in a fake nice way. “Yes, you too,” she replied most unamused.
We headed to our table and had a quick look over who our candidates were.
L began to ramble on about her trip to Poland saying how hard it was but what a rewarding experience it was. I half listened as her voice really began to irritate me. Already.
L made out she was quite cool for being older than most people who volunteer because she had finished school in 2012. I laughed and one upped her confirming I had completed school in 2007.
Our first candidate arrived, it was decided I was in charge of writing on my laptop taking notes of what was said.
Not even half way through L begins to look over my shoulder, she laughs and said “are you able to keep up?,” as though I was really struggling.
I wasn’t struggling.
“I’m fine,” I said with a fake smile.
This wasn’t the last time this happened. Looking over my shoulder continued numerous times.
First by her saying “That’s not how you spell developing “, as though I was completely stupid.
Obviously I can spell. I was just typing fast but had planned to go back. This didn’t suffice for L. In fact, I am convinced it gave her pleasure.
“Do we need to wait for you to finish?,” she said in such a condescending tone she lingered the words in her mouth, in front of the interviewee.
Thankfully I kept my cool, said I was good and I took over by asking the next question.
When we had finished, she commented on how I had written the notes saying that I shouldn’t have written it from the candidates point of view.
She wasn’t even the boss.
L added “Does that mean you’re 27?,” referring back to our conversation.
“How did you even get in this volunteering opportunity? I mean to make the cut,” she said with a sense of achievement in her question.
This interaction was laughable. But I couldn’t help see what else she would say to me. I mentioned how tired I was because I had been out the night before.
“Oh, really? You were out? Well lucky you, at least you have friends,” she said in the most unenthusiastic tone fused with sarcasm. L retold her night of having tea with a friend at her house. But that was all that she had done.
The tone didn’t warrant sympathy on my behalf. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction.
Having this moment with a complete stranger especially having her make comments by ridiculing me in front of others made me think about humanity.
How funny are humans. We would rather not face our own insecurities therefore putting someone else down to make ourselves feel better.
Having anxiety has made me hyper aware of potential insecurities of others and not pointing them out. I see no point in saying someone did something ‘wrong’ because it’s a different way to mine. Of course it needs to be pointed out if it changes the outcome.
But if it ultimately gets the same result. Does it all really matter?
I learnt about this in my first job. Working in childcare, being with little babies was my first role.
One day, I instinctively told this 12 month old baby that his bottle was coming while I was preparing it.
This lady I worked with was in charge of the room, announcing from across the room, that talking to a child like that wouldn’t be helpful.
“He doesn’t understand what you’re saying,” she said laughing at my stupidity (?).
I researched it from my trusty friend ‘Google’ by looking for articles claiming the importance of talking to children. Even if they don’t understand the words.
Children understand the tone, body language and manner in which you speak to them.
My interaction with L ensured I wholeheartedly never wanted to see her again considering the tension between us.
Maybe it’s my own issue of people thinking I’m stupid that bothers me.
But it did make me realise how important it is to be humble. Even to the ones who appear to treat you like you are stupid.