Art Blog: How You Want to be Treated
“Don’t let them call you buddy by the way.” he said.
It was our freshman year in college. We’d just left “The SAC” with our lunches.
‘Our’ being my friend and my lunch. The SAC (as it was lovingly referred to by many horny college students) being the Student Activity Center.
The SAC had four floors: in the basement was the Temple Gift Shop, the reception desk was on the floor above it, the third floor held a couple dozen conference rooms, and on the second floor was the cafeteria.
You could get nearly ANYTHING in the cafeteria! Bagels? Check. Chinese food? Absolutely. Cheesesteaks? We’re in Philly for goodness sake! The SAC was THE lunch spot for every student with a meal plan, and my friend and I were not immune to its charms.
One day in spring, my pal and I had both gotten a grilled chicken wrap – yeah, they had wraps too – and we saw our floor mates eating lunch together. They greeted my friend, asking him if he wanted to sit down, and half-heartedly acknowledged me by saying
“Oh, Micah, you can join too hahaha.”
While I was half-wondering what they found funny, my friend decided to decline their offer with a
“I think we’ll just head back to the dorm. We’ll talk to you all later.”
I thought “works for me!”. Not an ounce of my being wished to sit there as it was.
I looked at the gentleman sitting in front of us and said
“See you guys later!”.
They saluted my friend, and replied to me “See ya, buddy! Hahaha”.
Their chuckles could still be heard on the other side of the room, but they grew fainter as we turned a corner and headed for the glass EXIT doors of the SAC.
Ambling down the pavement, I started digging into my wrap box, hoping to snag a piece of grilled chicken drenched in honey mustard when my friend said
“Don’t let them call you buddy by the way.”
“? Why?” I responded with a coked head and yellow fingertips.
“It’s demeaning. It communicates that they think they’re above you.”
“Hmm…. . Oh well.” I poked my thumb and pointer fingers back into the box, but I couldn’t seem to remember what I was hunting for. I was distracted. I’d acted like what my friend said hadn’t affected me, but it had – deeply.
“No one treats me like I’m worth anything… .” I thought.
“Damn it! Why don’t they respect me??”
I didn’t even question whether or not what my friend had said was true. I didn’t consider the part I played in other’s perception of me. Honestly… none of it mattered. After all, my friend had just verbalized an alarming truth: few people treated me ‘well’.
From that day on alarms blared in my head anytime someone called me “buddy”. Alarms went off, and I (furiously) made it my business to demean them with jokes, body language, and anything else I could. As I think about it now, what a massive waste of time! I could have expressed that I dind’’t like being called that in any number of ways, and it probably would have stopped! Instead I chose to “get back” at my “attackers” with subterfuge.
I bring this up because one of my coworkers called me “buddy” today. All these memories rushed back to me, but instead of dread, instead of anger… I felt nothing. Not a bad kind of nothing either. More like an inner peace nothing.
Then, I turned the corner.
Another of my coworkers saw me. Her face immediately brightened. She merrily sped walk to me and asked if I was leaving. I told her “Yup!”. She beamed and told me “Have a Good Night!”
I walked away after that – with a smile on my face. I’d matured a bit since freshman year it seemed. And one wave had reinvigorated my gratitude towards those closest to me.
June 9th, 2017