Sunday, April 24, 2011

I, me and my judgmental self.

This post was written on a notepad as I was waiting in line at the DMV a few days ago. I thought it was worth blogging about so here it is.
I'm constantly surprised by people and their actions. Within the past 30 minutes, I've had my thoughts challenged by 2 couples around me. The first was a pair of two girls waiting ahead of me in line at the DMV. I stared at the hooded backs of these two girls and tried to kill the time by trying to figure out if they were together. One of them was tall, had dreadlocks, and hands that belonged to a man (or atleast the hands I imagine belonging to my man). she also had a nosering that hooped through the middle of her nose (a septum piercing?) which to me is always reminiscent of an ox or a bull. Her companion was an example of extremes with clothes two sizes too tight, heels a bit too high, make-up a bit too much for 10AM on a Monday morning and a voice too low for anyone without a dolphin's hearing prowess to hear. When the formed glanced backward (probably because I had drilled a hole through her hoodie with my steady gaze), I caught a distinctive whiff of strong alcohol on her breath. Instantly, I had her pegged as a raging alcoholic who never washed her hair and drank 7 days a week starting early in the morning and ending early in the morning. I took this a setp further and assumed she didn't have a job because what hard-working person can afford to be intoxicated at 10AM on a monday morning? My thoughts were partly confirmed when I heard her tell her companion that she was nauseas and needed to go to the bathroom. I took a step back from her to avoid being vomited on and watched her stagger towards the bathroom. When her turn to be called to the counter came, the lone companion asked me if I would take their turn so she could wait for her bathroom bound companion. I gladly accepted and thanked her friend silently for being drunk.
A few minutes later as I was waiting in line once again after grabbing the right forms, I saw the previously-spotted dreadlocked doll come and stand next to me in line (grabbing the right forms isn't that easy...take note snooty lady at the MVA counter). Anyways, concerned that the line looked haphazardly formed, I made a point of asserting my place at the front of the line by shuffling my forms and my feet with impatience. Our short line was soon added to by two other individuals- a well dressed woman and a short balding man. However, my only focus was on not letting the drunky cut in front of me. Imagine my surprise then, when madam-well-dressed smiled at me one instant and then totally cut in front of me when the counter was available! When I finally managed to shut my jaw, I looked around and saw my plastered-princess do the same. Glad to see she was on my side of received injustice, I warmed up to her slightly, but kept my other side suspicious of her. However, this must have taken a lot of concentration because the next minute the counter opened up, bald-short hopped in front with his form-filled,outstretched arms. This time, utterly baffled and paranoid that I had somehow turned invisible, I made eye contact with my companion and passed a sarcastic comment about rude people who cut in line. Much to my surprise (and relief) my princess spoke in a soft, steady voice and said to me "Don't worry, I won't cut in line in front of you." At that point, I could have hugged her despite the dreadlocks and alcohol breath but the counter opened up again and I leaped in place, feeling like a judgmental hater. So much for not judging tattered stinky books by their cover.
A few minutes later, I was sitting and waiting for my number to be called and making up stories in my head to explain the people all around me. After hearing her number being called, I saw a heavyset, middle-aged, African American woman trudging her way to the counter while lugging a huge overcoat. As she approached the counter, she announced "Goodmorning sir!" in a heavily accented Nigerian accent. Instantly, her story formed in my head- an over-worked, under-appreciated, recent immigrant to the US, she was at the DMV on her break from work at the hospital as a nurse because her chauvinistic, good-for-nothing Nigerian husband refused to do anything other than the 3 basics- eating, drinking and womanizing. Why he was probably still in bed, wearing a wife-beater and a stripped loincloth! Yes, I know this is a ridiculously racist, stereotypical judgment but this seems to be my general impression from my experience with outspoken Nigerian women (and remember, this was all one way of idling away my time by creating fantasy-based stories about people in my head).
Well anywhoo, so imagine my surprise when I saw a short man, smartly dressed in a crisp, navy suit and shining shoes appear next to the woman (he exited from the bathroom). He instantly took the heavy overcoat from her and helped her sit on the only chair available at the counter. Once content that his wife was comfortable on her plastic chair designed to comfortable seat paper cutouts, he stood beside her with his hands lovingly on her shoulder- a gesture so intimate, yet so seemingly ordinary for them that neither one seemed to acknowledge it. A few minutes later, he helped her get up, helped her put on her coat and walked away while holding hands while I was left erasing my mind of previous stories I had heard of treacherous Nigerian husbands and their tormented wives. Conveniently, my number was called soon after and I was spared the agony of chastising myself for having such a negative view of people and their lives for too long. *phew!*

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