Thursday, February 07, 2008

So a little preface for this one.

1. Despite the humour that will hopefully follow, let's remember that I really am the least offensive person ever. Well, perhaps that's just a slight misnomer, but all the same, despite the seeming intolerance for, well, everyone, I really don't care enough to be truly prejudice, never mind towards the mentally challenged, so just stfu. I love everyone equally, if not at all.

2. Bear in mind that I'm a big ol' Jew, so i can say all this shiz. You can't. And if you don't think it's as funny as half of my office (the bulk of this has been adapted from a work e-mail), then, again, stfu.

Ok, so there is a woman at my place of jubilant employment, henceforth known as K, who works in the mail room and has Downs syndrome. Ok, I know. Red flags are already going off like crazy, but hear me out first.

(Actually, before you hear me out, allow me to go slightly blue for a second. Clothing choices: is there no parental or guardianental supervision here? I really think that it is a sign of how little respect we have for the mentally challenged that we assume that they are not worth looking as appropriately presentable as others. Granted, personal expression should be encouraged, but I feel guidance is needed as well. There's just way too much lyrca and Disney-inspired back packs going around. Yes, I'm an asshole, but I'm right and you know it.)

So, I went over two years acting as the perfect model of acceptance and diversity with this lovely girl, going out of my way to make sure that my garbage and recyclables were clearly separated as to not gain her ire, before some very odd behaviour began. Anytime she saw me, she would run in the other direction. I'm not kidding. This 35 year old woman with an English choir boy haircut would literally turn heel and fly away from me. I realize I go through the occasional unseemly fat phase, but this is just uncalled for. Kindness did not help the situation as any salutation would be met with the covering of eyes with her hand while power-walking away; the holding open of a door earned me a look like I had just run over her puppy with a military-issued roadster. Being a friend to all (I'm practically Thumper), this was very disconcerting to me and proved puzzling (though hilarious) to my supervisor and fellow students. Look, we're not mean. None of us would ever dream of making fun of her, it was simply a very odd and, yes, humourous situation.

To make matters even more confusing, there was this totally random moment a few months back where she snapped out of it and seemed to really like me, to the point that we were trading mutual Eastern European heritage stories and even singing Edelweis in the middle of the mail room (She thinks Captain Von Trapp is dreamy).

So about a month ago, one of my fellow students, henceforth known as L, was working with K and my name came up, as I had just walked by and K had put her hand up as a shield to block her vision and uttered a very filter-free "Ugghh!"

"Why, K," my coworker posited, "Whatever is the matter?"

"I don't like him."

"Why not?"

"Well, he's Jewish and he knows that I'm Christian so he probably doesn't like me."

Ah. There we have it. A year of mystery boils down to good ol' antisemitism.

"Well, K, I'm Christian, and David and I are still friends. I'm sure he likes you."

And I do. From that point on, appreciating that this was probably a very stressful situation, I did my best just to avoid her as to not add any undue stress. I realized that this wasn't really bigotry so much as misguided ignorance that, let's face it, could not be curbed.

Then, today, I snapped.

Frequently, when arriving in the morning I will get to work, or rather the Graham/Main intersection, at the same time as a certain other employee who may be deduced by her love of Julie Andrews and racial intolerance.

As I am not one to cause undue anxiety in others, I try to stay behind her, out of sight, in the hopes that my Jew-y presence won’t ruin her morning. This often means walking at an excruciatingly slow pace, which coming from me really does say something.

However, this morning I was in no mood for Fraulein Heil and her fourth reich and decided to make my presence known by walking very clearly in front of her at my own reasonably leisurely pace.

The recoil effect was instantaneous.

Paying no heed, I strode confidently into my God-given place of employment and pressed the button for the elevator (I would have taken the stairs but my messenger bag was weighed down from 5,000 years of oppression.) However, I decided, just for kicks to see just how long it would take Ms. Eva Braun to enter the building after me (I mean, really, I’m already going to hell for killing her lord; what other shenanigans could I get up to?).


Four minutes it took before she poked her head around the corner! And was really cold out today!

On the plus side, she was wearing some killer brown pinstripe trousers that go stunningly with the hot pink Barbie backpack.


Michael Park said...

Hats off to you for posting somewhat regularly! YAY!
I love hearing about and experiencing awkward situations, so I highly enjoyed your story.

Andrew said...

You know that as soon as I saw a disclaimer, I was excited. This sounds pretty hilarious - if unfortunate for those involved. I laughed. (You knew I would.)