This is a rather personal post of sorts
I've only seen 2 adults cry in front of me my whole life. First, when my father found out his brother died in the 2004 tsunamis. Second, when my mother was drastically insulted and was put in a state of sadness for days. In those two moments I was either crying, or seething at the reasons why those tears were produced.
However, these incidents happened in the comfort of home, where I could openly express how I felt and try to console my parents.
Yesterday, was completely different for me.
For the past 8 weeks of my summer I have been taking a summer SAT boot camp. If you don't know what the SAT is, it's a test that is taken by several Americans and beyond for a better chance of getting into a college. Yesterday was my last day of the 45 days of continuous learning that was barely any different than school. After having some potlucks and games between each 'class' transition, it was time to leave. However, some of us had to stay for a tutorial of sorts. "Extra help" for any subject or problems we had trouble with.
My scores for the three subjects (Math, Writing, & Critical Reading) are pretty good, even though math is probably the hardest for me. I decided to join my friend in the critical reading tutorial where we waited for the teacher to make their appearance while we all chattered amongst ourselves.
Our teacher was coming up the ramp, bearing onto a pair of crutches while slowly making it to the door. She was an energetic, fun-loving teacher. We'd seen her use the crutches before, but never knew exactly why she used them as we never asked her. We spotted her through the window, and that was when a guy (A mutual friend of mine) decided to yell the word "Cripple!"
The obvious thought would be that the teacher wouldn't have heard him, but then she shows up in the doorway, an unreadable expression on your face.
"Did you really just call me a 'cripple'?" were the words that came out of her mouth. The rest of us tried not to gasp or make any other word as the guy stuttered a bit, and then admitted he did, though he was just joking.
The teacher looked down a bit, and said "I Have chronic back back disorder. I'm sure I'd love to be called a 'cripple' all the time"
Since the teacher was sarcastic all the time, we thought that she'd gotten over the rude name the guy called her. But as she made her way up to the front, my friend and I saw a weird change of emotion in her. I could already predict, 'she is going to cry' and for some reason I was terrified. What would I do to help if she did? I didn't just want to sit there staring at her.
Then, slowly, tears started spilling out of her eyes, and the guy looked completely shocked (just like the rest of us), repeating his apologies and whatnot. The teacher never replied to him, and asked my friend and me to pass out the papers she'd brought in. After, she rushes out of the room, sobbing.
The part that makes me feel the worst is that I'll probably never see her again. Most of us wanted to run after her, but it seemed likewise myself, none of us had been in such a position. Most of us were still battling with ourselves in what we should do.
The guy who'd called her the word was obviously joking, but I am not going to make that any sort of excuse. It was cruel to call a teacher that, even if he didn't know she had the disease. But it was just a simple word, something that she could have scolded him for and continued. Why cry?
I then put myself in her shoes, trying to identify how I'd feel if I was called a cripple and had the same back issues. Was she called such a name as a kid? Something that stirred her within?
I just don't know.
But I can say that we all have a word or two that we may not even know about yet. Those words bring out the weirdest feelings in us, making us feel weak and vulnerable. Just like the teacher that was called a name. Branching out from there, people are called so many things in this virtual society. We label people with names just because it rhymes with something or because they are a kind of person. I see that being used so effortlessly in insults, do they even think about the effect it may have on the person?
Anyway, Thank you for reading this if you did, I needed to get this happening out of my head as it's been bothering me for a long time now.
Is there a word that you are sensitive to?