I went to the local science fiction convention this weekend. I’ve been doing so for years and was looking forward to it, even though I was expecting to have had knee surgery on Thursday. Instead, I was fitted out with a knee brace. It was a good convention, but there was one woman who amazed me by with one incredibly obnoxious act.
I was hanging out in the con suite, a place where people can relax between events, enjoy good company, and even get a bite to eat. There were about a half dozen or so of us, including a good friend sitting on my right. I only have to wear the knee brace when I put weight on my leg, it was chafing, and I planned on being there for a while, so I’d taken the thing off and put it next to me, also on my right, out of sight of the general public since I’m rather self-conscious about it. The conversation was good; we’d covered quite a range of topics, during which I’d mentioned I’d battled depression and the woman on my left had said something about the virtues of 12-Step programs.
I was enjoying the conversation when I noticed she’d gotten out a camera and was starting to take pictures of people and intended to take one of every one in the room. This wasn’t a group shot; it was one shot of each person there. As she worked her way around to me, I said gently that I didn’t like having my picture taken and asked her not to do so. My friend said, “No, you don’t understand. She really doesn’t like having her picture taken.” The woman continued. This time I repeated more firmly “Please don’t take my picture.” The tone I used would set those who know me, including some Dopers trembling and looking around for a medic. I also put my arm up across my face to prevent her getting a photo. I don’t think I could possibly have made myself clearer. She took the photo anyway. What’s worse, after she did so, she let out a cry of triumph, crowing “Hah! I got your face anyway!”
White-hot fury erupted through me. I’m told there were thunderstorms nearby. I just remember being furious. My friend tells me a guilty look crossed the woman’s face. I just remember her shoving the digital camera under my nose and saying, “Look! I’m erasing it!” I wanted desperately to get away, but it wasn’t going to be that damn easy. The woman erased the photo and left. I picked the brace up from the floor next to me and set about fastening the four straps which hold it in place feeling humiliated and furious. Before she left, the woman said something about taking photos of people being part of her “recovery”. :rolleyes:
Yes, I know my reaction was overly strong and intense. I’m not thrilled about having my photo taken and I figure it’s one of the universe’s little jokes that I’m dating a guy who’s hobby is photography. He, however, wouldn’t have done such a thing – he values his life and his camera equipment too much! It wasn’t just the photo though, although that’s what I’ll tackle first. You see, I spent my youth being called “ugly” or “fugly”, not to mention a bunch of other things. The closest I got to a compliment on my appearance from my father was, “You might be presentable, if you work on it.” In school photos, I was accused of “pulling my face”. As a result, I thought I was ugly until I was in my mid-20’s and I don’t like the way I look in photos. A part of me is also still hanging on to it’s old training and figures the only reason someone would take a photo of me would be to make fun of me. I know that’s wrong, but old training runs deep. Add to that my self consciousness about the brace which looks a bit like a Borg-type alien is attempting to mate with my leg, not to mention what it does to the wayI walk, and I really didn’t want anyone to take a photo of me.
There were two other factors, though. First, I told this woman not to take my picture three times, twice verbally; once non-verbally. My friend also told her not to. Not only did she willfully override me, acting like what I said was nothing, she gloated about doing so.
Second, I was in a position a lot of people would find unnerving. I was trapped. If my life was in immmediate danger, yes, I could have made it past her and to the door without the brace. Under lesser circumstances, though, I’m not prepared to leave it behind. The thing has four straps which have to be fastened in a specific order tightly enough to stay on. It takes a few minutes. I couldn’t leave the room before she took my picture, even though I wanted to.
Here’s what I wanted to say and a more intense version of what I would have if I’d met her later during the con:
Congratulations. You have just used your so-called “recovery” to harm another human being. I don’t care what your issues are; you exacerbated mine, most notably by acting like what I wanted, a reasonable enough request mattered nothing at all to you. You arrogant git!!! I asked politely. You didn’t care. You left a complete stranger trapped and beaten because your selfish desires mattered more than common courtesy and then you had the temerity to revel in your lack of concern. Go back to your 12-Step program. Tell them your recovery mattered more to you than common courtesy to a stranger. Tell them you harmed someone who’d done no harm to you for the sake of a stupid photo. Finally, next time someone tells you “Please, don’t take my picture,” RESPECT HER WISHES!
Thank you for letting me vent.