Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: When a quick errand turns awkward

I am a fan of the idea that we should embrace ourselves for all we have to offer, no matter how different those traits are. However, I wish the rest of the world would learn to accept us as we are too.

I want to focus on the physical differences among us, since beauty is still considered a most important asset. For women, the ideal beauty standard consists of thick hair, a small waist, fresh one-tone skin and a perfectly symmetrical face. I offer none of these, but I do contribute my unique qualities to the world. They consist of oily hair that needs to be washed several times a week, raccoon eyes I inherited from my father and grandmother and a set of hips that are thinner than my waistline, making it a challenge to keep my pants on. So when I make a quick trip to run an errand and don’t take the time to hide my natural attributes, the reaction can be quite comical.

Such was the case the other day when I had to drop a package off at a FedEx store. Knowing it wouldn’t be a highly involved trip and that I wouldn’t see too many people, I headed out sans shower and makeup to display the seemingly damp hair and dark circles. I also pulled on some ill-fitting women’s jeans – ill-fitting because women’s jeans assume all girls have an ass. I do not, and because of that I have to constantly pull them up at the waist. In fact, that is the case with just about all my pants. Hey, at least I put a bra on.

I noticed as I pulled into the parking lot there was a sub shop next to the FedEx office and I decided to run in and get something to go after I was done dropping off my package. When I walked into the empty restaurant, I was greeted by the staff, but I noticed that once I began to give my order and attempt to joke with the cashier that most conversation on their end came to an abrupt halt. They rang up the order and gave me my drink cup, but the two people behind the counter gave a lackluster attempt to hide their effort to avoid eye contact with me. In fact, they avoided looking at me altogether as they worked to fill my order.

I became instantly self-conscious, took my cup and headed to the restroom. Confused, I went about my business and washed my hands. Then I saw what they must have seen, someone who looked like a stereotypical druggie. Forgive what seems like an insensitive description, but I was trying to figure out why they wanted me quickly out of the store and realized that must be it. I’m sure my natural ability at bubbly conversation was confused for some nervous high and need for food to satisfy a craving.

I will say this is the first time at complete avoidance by people who have seen me unkempt. Usually there are stares and people asking me if I feel OK. Little kids have on more than one occasion asked if I’d been hit or in a car accident. By this point I’m used to it, but if someday while you’re out and you see a woman looking pitiful, know she isn’t in danger. She just didn’t feel like getting ready before heading out to get lunch.