Say no to the toe

A One of the things I love about autumn (as if there weren’t 1 million things already) is the return of shoes and boots to the general human populace. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, everyone will be putting their grim* feet away.

The thing is, you see, where we live now, September was still summer – just without the tourists and their grocklewuffs. Well, there were still tourists, but they’re mostly the silver surfer types. More interested in finding the nearest tea-room than taking over the beach and letting their feral offspring attempt a kind of sandcastled world domination.

(A partly rhetorical question – are all undisciplined ‘friendly’ free-range mutts called Olly or Milo? Please let me know if you have a well-behaved furbaby by one of these names. I’d genuinely love to know as I’m in danger of developing a neurotic reaction to the names.)

Anyway

October was where glorious autumn started kicking in. And by November, everyone could breathe a sigh of relief.

Footwear.

Back on topic.

The sandals and flip-flops have been put away for another year so we’re spared from the horrific sight of tangled toes and mangled toenails. I’m sorry, but putting sparkly nail varnish once a year on those otherwise totally neglected toe-talons does not make your fungal footsies ‘sandal-ready’.

*This is what I meant by grim, oh thou easily triggered masses. I meant feet that have been neglected and/or thoughtlessly warped and tormented for the sake of ‘fashion’.

The things humans do (or don’t do) to their feet…

I’ve heard of people who had toes amputated so they can fit into a particular brand of ultra-narrow designer shoes. Can you imagine what future anthropologists are going to say when they dig up these poor beggars?

As for me, I have hobbit feet. They are literally half as wide as they are long. And when I say literally, I literally mean literally. I’ve actually measured them. Very small and – as you can imagine by the ratio I’ve just given you – extremely wide. I usually end up having to get shoes two or possibly more sizes larger just to get all my toes in!

Now, I don’t know if that’s a vampire thing or not. All I know is that I suddenly have bouts of footy claustrophobia if there isn’t a good couple of centimetres/an inch of space at the front of my shoe.

I hate to say it, but I’m grateful that my parents made me wear boring, properly-fitted shoes as a child. My feet, though weird, are now actually quite cute (so I’ve been told). No bumps, no lumps, no twisted tootsies doing the foot equivalent of duck-facing. My toes do not photobomb each other. Wearing lace-ups to school was never going to end well. Let’s face it, I was going to get picked on, no matter what shoes I wore.

I remember when slip-on shoes were all the rage. I was finally given the option to go choose my own shoes. I bought them and proudly wore them on the Monday, only to get picked only for wearing ‘slippers’. Moccasins had, apparently gone out of fashion exactly  28 seconds after I bought them. Oh well.

Anyway, I’ll stop ranting and finish with a bit of advice I was once given by someone I worked with. It’s concerning good sleep and good shoes –

“Two things you should never scrimp on – decent shoes and a decent bed because you spend most of your life either on your feet or on your back.”

Well said.

Say no to the toe. Two hoots for the boots.

Happy Autumn!

Re:Fuel

Serious post time.

Bullying.

Harassment.

Call it what you will. It takes many forms. I’ve been reading up on all this a lot recently – surprise, surprise and while there’s a lot of stuff out there on bullying, it’s still mostly school-oriented. I observe it everywhere. I may be a recluse, but I still like to sneak out and people-watch. The problem is, it doesn’t stop when you leave school. There is no age limitation on being a bully. Or on being bullied. There is still very little is about bullying in the workplace or within families – even with recent events. ‘Straightforward’ harassment / abuse, yes, but not much else.

So, what have I gleaned from my research and my own observations? It’s like that story of the three people in the dark room with an elephant… One feels the leg, thinks it’s a tree. One feels the trunk, thinks it’s a snake (he may have been the one who ran screaming to find the light switch), while one feels the tail and thinks it’s a rope.

I’ve realised that all these little snippets of information form a cycle. I suppose it’s also relevant to continued bullying in general. All of these little snippets feel like platitudes until you link them all up…

1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

2) The bully mistakes this for weakness.

3) The bully tries to control you (and hopefully fails).

4) The bully realises they can’t (hopefully).

5) Then follows abuse, lies, misrepresentation, manipulation of how others see you.

6) There’s a break.

7) Reconciliation of some sort.

8/1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

AND OFF WE GO AGAIN

And that’s only if you’re lucky. Sometimes the process ‘succeeds’ (for the bully) at step 3). Usually the target cracks at that step. If they’re lucky /strong / have support, the targeted person may get to step 4). If you don’t have support, then please, please, please find some.

The difference being that hopefully the bullied person learns and either stops the cycle at 6) or changes themselves before they re-enter the fray because, let’s face it, the bully will never learn. They’ve been way too successful for way too long to stop using a winning formula. Plus, if an outsider calls them out on their behaviour, all it takes is a few crocodile tears and they’re safe again.

Sadly, for my own part, I realise that most of the major changes in my life have come about as a result of being bullied… Leaving my home country (twice), becoming a first-time homebuyer, leaving a profession (the same one – twice)…

And why does it keep happening? Because of step 1). Does that mean we take it out of the equation? No. Let’s face it – bullies won’t change. I mean, why would they? They’ve got a winning formula.

So…

You say to yourself…

If the bully/harasser isn’t going to change what they are or what they do, then I’m not going to change what I am (let’s face it, I personally wouldn’t be able to). But I do need to change what I do.

So stop the process at 6). Don’t go to 7). Let them try doing a little of 1) for a change. But it’s quite safe, because we all know they won’t. They won’t ‘lower’ themselves to ‘your level’. They’re too proud / powerful. They have too many people already in their pocket to make it worthwhile. And you can always tell who those people are – they’re the ones who say things like:

“Surely it’s not as bad as that?”

“I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“Well, you’re not exactly perfect, you know.”

“Ignore them, they’ll soon get bored.”

“Well, I’ve never found X to be like that at all.”

“Some christian you are. Aren’t you supposed to forgive /l ove everyone / turn the other cheek?”

“It takes two to tango.”

But, whatever you do…

DON’T STAY SILENT.

Does it take guts? Undoubtedly.

But is it possible? Heck, yeah.