Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me
— Mark Wills, Don’t Laugh at Me
Something happened last Friday night, and though I vented about it on Facebook that evening, I still can’t shake it.
There is an elderly man in my neighborhood who has some kind of spine or neck curvature that causes him to walk with his head and shoulders hunched over and facing the ground. I see him out on walks fairly regularly, and I always worry about him. He shuffles slowly along and has to turn his whole body to look both ways before crossing the street.
Last Friday evening, David and I were at the gas station where the entrance to our subdivision meets the main road. I saw the man walking on the sidewalk parallel to the main road. When he came to the entrance/exit to the gas station, he stopped and turned his whole body both ways to check that there were no cars coming before continuing on his way.
As he made his way slowly, a white van on the main road slowed down, and the woman in the passenger seat stuck her whole body out the window and took a picture of the man with her phone, then the van sped up and drove off.
As I realized what was happening, I felt shock and sadness and, more than anything, anger. I was sitting in our car and I yelled out, “You fucking bitch! You goddamned asshole!” Hot tears filled my eyes and fell down my cheeks. I’m crying now just thinking about it again. I was in the car with the windows up and it all happened so fast that she wouldn’t have heard me anyway, but I just wanted to keep screaming and throw things at the van. I felt so, so helpless.
I don’t think the man saw her or knew what was happening, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. Like I said, I worry about him when I see him out, because people can be so terrible, but I hoped that he was always ok. Having seen what that woman did – took a picture of him for no other reason than her own sick amusement, surely to be shared with others and laughed at later – I’m reminded that there are people in the world who don’t seem to understand that every single person is a human being entitled to his or her dignity and to be treated with compassion and respect. And I’m angry about that.