Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Identity (2)

As I've mentioned in a previous post, identity is not only how we choose to see ourselves, it is also how others choose to see us - whether they can literally see or not.

A few days ago, while attentively examining the shelves of the local supermarket for the daily bargains, I heard the voice of a man behind me asking something I did not understand. I turned around: Are you talking to me? The man, taller than me, seemed to look somehow past me and said: Are you working here? I felt slightly irritated, nobody has ever mistaken me for a supermarket employee. Besides, I was wearing white sneakers, blue jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket. I mean: people who work in supermarkets aren't dressed like that, right? Well, who knows nowadays? In my younger years, the ones wearing long hair and a pony were rock musicians, today they are selling train tickets, are into yodelling or work in advertising. Still, I could not imagine why this man seemed to think that I might be working in this supermarket and so I said mockingly: Don't the employees in here wear blue uniforms? Ah, he said and started to turn away. Only then I realised that he was holding a rather long stick close to his chest and it dawned on me that this might be a blindman's stick. Can't you see? I asked politely. No, he said. Do you want to speak to somebody from the store? Yes, he answered. Allright, I said, take my arm and I will lead you to one of the regular employees of the store. And off we went.

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