As a child, I thought Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was basically Candyman.

Why are we so quick to judge people? Is this a conditioned behaviour or something we’re naturally attuned to as we stumble through society? Maybe 5 minutes ago I saw a perfect stranger that I instantly loathed. She didn’t do anything to me. We didn’t even interact, but it took me all of 20 seconds to decide that she was someone I would never want anywhere near my life. Where do I get off painting someone’s entire existence in my mind by a few small actions? There are innumerable things that people couldn’t begin to guess by seeing me in public, so why am I so quick to tar and feather this woman when the same is probably true for her?

Here are the things I witnessed:

  • Instead of walking through the rotating door, she pressed the disability access button to open the door next to her.
  • Walking in the door, she squirted some of the sanitiser into her hands and started rubbing it in.
  • She was an attractive woman with a very composed manner.
  • Walking out of the elevator I saw a label on her thermos saying “Property of ____”

That’s it. That’s all I saw and those small crumbs were enough for me to dismiss her outright. What thoughts rose to my mind? First, the disability access button. She seemed perfectly abled and had a free hand which would have no issue pushing a revolving door. Revolving doors are there because they’re more efficient, right? Unlike button operated doors, they don’t use electricity. That way you’re putting less strain on resources. The casual manner with which she pressed the button and walked through had an air of expectation or entitlement, as if the thought of having to move through the door of her own volition was beneath her. In that second I couldn’t see her as the type of person who would even consider anything from a collective point of view in lieu of what was easier or more convenient for her. Selfish. I raised the fact that she was attractive not because I have anything against attractive people (I know a lot of them), but because it made me feel like she’d lived a life in which people would’ve kowtowed to her because of that attractiveness, thus reinforcing that it was okay for her to place herself above them. We’re not for a second gonna pretend that people don’t treat you better if you’re attractive. I know for a fact that people have incrementally treated me a hell of a lot more nicely after losing weight over time. If you’re living it, it’s hugely visible and obvious.

The sanitiser? It seemed so fastidious, as if seeing these minute bacteria (that are everywhere, obviously) as a major affront. Perhaps that’s my own innate bias (and what of this whole scenario isn’t?) against people who can’t stand to get their hands a little dirty. Messes happen, but if you’re aiming to live a pristine life, I feel like it’s some type of ivory tower paradigm coming to the form. Then again, I’m a known class warrior. If she’d had her hands full, I could’ve cut her slack for using the door button, but she clearly had empty enough hands to rub them together without missing a step. I guess in conjunction with her composed manner, I saw this as indicative of a certain pompous manner. She likes things her way and looks down on those who don’t compare to her standards. Also, how fucking particular is it to mistrust people enough that you need to label your thermos? Why would someone in an office environment take something like that? I leave my cellphone and coffee mug just sitting at my desk all the time. I’ve never had an issue whatsoever.

Aaaaand now that we’ve reached the conclusion (occasionally I structure this stuff, peeps. Even if loosely), I think you’ve probably arrived at my conclusion (see what I did there?): Clearly my snap judgements say more about me than they do about her. She’s a blank canvas. She’s her own person who I don’t know and have never met. Everything that I’ve ascribed to her is a reflection on how I feel about myself and my relationship with society. Every embittered viewpoint relates to insecurities and self-resentment that I’ve fit onto her frame. This is about my relationship with issues of class, authority, insignificance and self-worth. This is about the fact that I think that people think that they’re better than me, because secretly maybe I do think they’re better than me. Maybe my barometer for success is measured by standards I see myself failing and reflexively I shun them as oppressive, when I’m the one oppressing myself with no help from others.

It’s like, maybe we’re looking down at others, when really we’re looking down at ourselves, maaaaaaan.

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