Being a human is hard. But do you know what’s even harder? Being a decent human.
It’s really easy to tell what’s right and what’s wrong. We’re taught about being a good person doing and the right thing as we grow up. We watch movies and read books where the evil Queen’s lose and the bitchy popular girl ends up with no friends.
It’s all around us.
We know not to bully, we know not to spread hate, we know not to gossip, we know not to laugh at people who are weak. We know not to take advantage of others.
But when you find yourself in a situation where you’re influenced by others, or fueled by emotions, things can become unclear.
One time when I was 15, I had a job as a waitress in a restaurant. When I first joined, the chef was awful to me. She scared the living daylights out of me. She knew I was scared of her so she would talk to me like shit and ask me to do awful things. She was on a power trip fueled by my fear. The smirk on her face is something I’ll never forget. I was petrified of going to work and wanted to cry when I left. I felt like everyone hated me.
Then a new girl started. This new girl was so bad at her job and spent a lot of her shift in the toilets on her phone. I remember one Saturday the two of us were working and I was picking up all the work as she kept sneaking off. It got to the point where the manager got us together and divided the restaurant in half so we had a fair amount of tables each.
After around 45 minutes, all her tables were dirty and I had to speak to the manager to ask if I could clear away the dirty plates as it looked a mess. After a few weeks, we had given her the nickname of Chipless as one time we sent her up to get some chips and she couldn’t find them, even though there was a freezer full of them. We would laugh behind her back when she made mistakes and roll our eyes at our stupidity.
We would take delight in telling the manager how something was her fault, how she made mistakes.
If I was to live by morals and how I had been brought up, if I was to be the hero in a fairy tale, I would have acted differently.
I would have recognised good from bad and not laughed at her behind her back. I wouldn’t have patronised her when I spoke to her and I would have smiled, asked how her weekend had been. But I didn’t.
I didn’t because I was fueled by my emotions. I was fuelled by my annoyance of having to pick up extra work. But not only that.
I was fueled by acceptance.
I was no longer the one getting bullied. I was included in the jokes. I felt popular (finally) and over-confident.
That’s what humans do. They often bond over a mutual dislike or dislike one person who seems to be the scapegoat so everyone else can feel loved.
It’s really nice to feel accepted.
You feel confident. Too confident.
To the point where you turn into a really nasty piece of work. To the point where you can be egging others on to do something awful. Say something mean to her, go on. Play a joke on her, go on. It will be funny.
We’ve dehumanised this person of all emotions and filled the void with anger and hate.
I forgot how awful I felt when I first started. The pounding in my chest as I walked up to the building. How I trembled when the chef came near me and how every time my manager walked towards me, I was sure I had done something wrong. How I cried on the bus home and felt trapped and hopeless.
It wasn’t until my manager caught wind of what was going on. She said to someone ‘Most of all, I’m really surprised at Corinne’.
When I heard that, my heart sank.
I went from feeling confident to feeling small and ashamed.
I’ve never felt so disappointed in myself. That was the first time I had let myself down as a person.
It’s really easy to get caught up in it all and sometimes you need to be knocked back down and grounded. Because if we’re unable to control ourselves and stop ourselves from being disgraceful people, we deserve to feel like shit.
Do you have a similar story?