A shop keeper, standing at the door of his shop, watched all this, once I was seated in the car he strode over and informed me that the woman I had spoken to had a mental illness and that maybe I need to be more understanding. He felt that I should have known and should have made an exception, “How do you think she feels?” he asked.
“Fine,” I said.
We then talked and I pointed out that I made the same request to her as I make to anyone else, I was polite, saving annoyance for those who don’t hear me the first time, and she quickly responded. She responded appropriately, she said that she was sorry and moved along.
He couldn’t get over the fact that she had a mental illness and came back to that as a reason I should have expected less from her and offered ‘might have been’ scenarios that she might have been triggered to become violent … that she might have been really upset and hiding it … that she might have been offended, might have felt ridiculted.
I suggested that all we had was what happened, I asked and she understood and moved along like 99 percent of people do.
When I wasn’t budging and when I was refusing his advice to ‘expect less’ as an act of kindness, I just told him that I thought his lack of expectations of her as an adult person is part of the problem she faces. The tyranny of low expectations rears its head again.
She had responded to a normal human interaction with more grace than many do and yet people expect so little of her. I worry that she sink under the weight of their pity into the pit that expectations abandon has put in her past.