Monday, 6 June 2011

We All Bleed Red.

The other day I was at work talking to a customer about the weather (this was the day where it was reported that a tornado had touched down in my parents town, and I was slightly worried about them), and I said to her that this year seemed particularly erratic, my exact words being, 'Yeah the weather is being really gay.' A saying that over the last few years I've adopted into my repertoire, same as when we used to say 'as if,' 'far-out' and 'dude.' I'd never really thought about it much before, until on this day, another client over heard me and was offended. She asked one of my associates for Head Office's phone number (insinuating a complaint), refusing to approach me in person, as my associate suggested. "She's really friendly and didn't mean anything by won't turn ugly," my associate said.
Once my associate made me aware that I'd offended her, I was deeply sorry and wanted to apologize, but she'd already left the store.
So I took it upon myself to track her down in another store, walked up to her and apologized in person. I explained to her that I meant nothing by it, that is was simply a saying that unfortunately I'd adopted from hearing it so often. "It's in the air, part of pop-culture, I meant no offense and I'm so sorry it offended you. Please when you're done here come back to the store and I'll be more than happy to give you a gift card." At this point the customer bursts into tears.
Not sure what else to do I return to the store, knowing she wouldn't come back, got her a gift card and returned to give it to her, apologizing again.

With that being said, I have to say that for the last couple days I was upset that I'd upset her. But I was also upset that she thought it appropriate to call in a complaint against me, as I'd never even talked to her during her visit (I'd just return from break when she was leaving) and the remark was not directed at her or anyone else. It wasn't even in reference to another person, but the weather. (Now, be patient, I am going somewhere with this.) I felt that even though deep down I know that this is a derogatory term, meaning to degrade a person's sexuality as well as who they are, and I'm aware that even though the comment was not in reference to anyone, the fact that it was said at all was inflaming. It is something I'm working on to nix from my vocabulary, just as some people try not to swear in front of children. But sometimes you slip. I honestly felt that a complaint to make me look bad in front of my staff, my supervisor and head office was way out of line considering the circumstances. I kept saying to myself over and over, that something must of happened in her past to make her oversensitive to the statement.

Now, a couple days later, And (through the universe speaking to me) it dawned on me. Something in her past DID happen to make her react this way. She was born!

In my morning meditation today (yes, I meditate) the phrase, "Your words and thoughts have physical power," appeared. (This is where I pictured her crying.) Then on Twitter I read the @deepakchopra tweet, " To see the world from others' perspective is to take on their emotional footprint. To comprehend the world through them #spiritualsuperheroes," and in that moment it REALLY dawned on me. She wasn't being oversensitive. She was simply asking for the respect that I NEVER have to ask for. It's automatically given. I'm never judged or ridiculed for being straight. I'm not stalked or beaten or killed for being straight. And I don't have derogatory sayings made up in order to belittle me and my sexuality, and make me feel like nothing. And now...I get it.

Respect and understanding, compassion towards another should never have to be explained or demanded. It should simply be!


  1. No Rachel please be advised that a word in the dictionary used to describe being joyous should not have evoked her over-sensitive reaction that could have in fact had you lose your job. To be so thin skinned about a word is to eliminate the ability of us to laugh at ourselves. Comedians will soon be unable to tell a joke for fear it might offend someone somewhere in the vast expanse of television and movie viewers. In the movie The Dilema just such a word was used which had gay activiists chomping at the bit to have the film banned. PLEASEEEEEEE in their goal to have it thought of as a different way of life and just an alternative lifestyle. It is asking us to view black and white as gray and that should never happen. I judge no one but at the same token I don't go around telling people what I do in my bedroom and I don't believe it should be broadcast so that people are viewed by their sexual habits...some things should be kept to themselves. The intimacy of two people coming togther in an act of love should not be degraded into a visual that all don't agree on. It should be private. Words and their meaning keep changing and suddenly before you know it a normal word is now an offense to someone somewhere...when will it end.
    Finally if you have a problem with something someone says walk up to them directly and tell them to their face. Don't go behind their back and try to get them fired.
    But you are my hero for going the extra mile, even though you didn't have to.

  2. Rachel, loving the blog, girl! Good for you. And I loved this post. I would have struggled in the same way you did. The "open mouth, insert foot" has happened to me more times than I can count on two hands, two feet, and all other parts of me that travel in pairs. You were not unkind. Know that. And the gift card was a nice way to show that you were truly sorry for offending her -- even though you had no clue that you were. Who would? It was heartfelt -- and you did a fabulous job sharing the story here. Thanks for that.

    Look forward to more. (Hey, you gotta add in some widgets here to make it easy to share the love.)

  3. Rachelle Gagne6 June 2011 at 13:32

    Phil thank you for the feedback, but we all know that I was not using the word in the context of being "joyous". I remember the storm around the movie The Dilema, and at the time I thought the same thing. Where's everyone's sense of humor gone? But put yourself in their shoes? (this incident has allowed me to do just that) It has nothing to do with what they are doing in the bedroom, and keeping it private.
    It has to do with people attacking their right to be free and respected just like everyone else.

    And as for comedians losing valuable material because of it...well they aren't very good comedians then if they can't find something else to point out that's funny. There's something to be said about, laughing with someone not at someone.

    Gwen thanks for your comment. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one.
    PS. A Widget hunt is imminent.