Sunday, July 16, 2017

Small Town Auras

I was born and raised in a large town. They say it's large anyway.  At 15-16 years old, 23 square miles starts to feel pretty small. After college when Facebook went live to the public, 23 square miles started to feel like a fish bowl. 

It was important to my parents that we were allowed to build roots and grow up with a sense of community. I graduated high school with many of the people I started kindergarten with. I know where everything in town is.  I remember when we were a one Wal-Mart town.

Miranda Lambert once sang:

 "Every last one, route one, rural heart's got a story to tell
Every grandma, in law, ex girlfriend
Maybe knows you just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey words gonna get around".  

Even in a town of 52,000, this seems to be true. There isn't much I don't know about my old friends, or my ex-boyfriends, and what they've done with their lives. Sometimes, that sense of community can be a heavy thing to bear. I've been struggling with the weight of a particular small-town problem lately: the class bully. 

Middle school was hard for me. High school was easier, but I was also struggling with grief a child of 15 shouldn't know so early, I was too busy just trying to survive myself to be too bothered by bullies. That doesn't mean it didn't happen and I know it happened to other people. My school had Mean Girls, complete with a few incarnations of Regina George. I watched them victimize people for everything, it seemed nothing was off limits. They coordinated their schedules as much as possible. If you found yourself a target of the entire clique in one class, there was a good chance you'd be forced to endure the abuse of one or more members in at least two other classes during the day.  

We've all grown up now, allegedly. Some of us went to college. Some of us got jobs. Some of us started families. Some of us decided to open a small business right here in our quaint little town. 

I've always tried to support local businesses and small business owners. After leaving my last corporate job where I was unappreciated, underpaid and feeling chewed up by the corporate machine, I fell in love with working for a small business.  My experience working for a small business inspired me to  patronize small businesses whenever possible.

What do you do when the Regina George of your high school grows up and becomes a successful business owner in town?  Ever worse, what do you do when it is a profession you not only have a lot of respect for, but in an industry that requires compassion, respect, courtesy, confidentiality and dignity?

Unfortunately, I was no Cady Heron in high school. I never took a stand against any of our Regina Georges.  None of them got hit by a bus and became better people. My Regina George went to school and now works in a personal care industry.  I live and work in a community with someone who works with peoples' bodies after watching her tease and abuse people about their bodies - weight, acne, body hair, facial features - for years.  

I see people recommending her and I want to scream every time. I feel a twinge of bitterness that this person is making a living taking care of people after seeing her tear down so many. I am fearful that she doesn't treat her profession with the respect it deserves and she disparages her clients behind closed doors.  My heart hurts and I feel sick at the idea that she looks at her clients - people with imperfect bodies - the same way she looked at her classmates so many years ago and can hide her distaste so well that she can profit from it. Maybe she became a better person.  Maybe the teasing and the taunting and the systematic bullying was a sign of low self-esteem and she's dealt with herself. Maybe everything I know about this person is wrong or somehow no longer valid. 

I doubt it, but I hope I'm wrong every time I see her name. Somehow, I can't get past the idea that her aura is still as brown as her fake tan. She was so awful and cruel to people that it's hard to believe much has changed.  On the outside, things look great but you know what they say.... you can roll of piece of shit in powdered sugar, but that doesn't make it a jelly donut.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you're wrong as well, but always trust your gut instinct-it rarely steers us wrong. In the end, I hope it comes out how she truly is if she's not acting with love and compassion-no one needs that kind of 'care'.