I realized something about myself yesterday, and felt the inexplicable need to tell people. So here it is: I am willing to sacrifice your opinion of me in order to keep from doing something I don’t want to.
Basically, I’d rather you think I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, naive or a complete bitch, than go to that party. Or take out the trash. Or walk to the store.
To illustrate; the light bulb in the bathroom of my aunt’s apartment blew out early last week. Well, kind of. It’s a fluorescent light, and it started only coming on halfway. There would be a dull flicker, but nothing that would provide enough light to actually use the bathroom. There’s a window, and I have a flashlight on my phone so I didn’t really think too much of it, and part of me was waiting for the light to fix itself and just come on like normal one day.
That day was yesterday. Arriving home from work, I realized that the bathroom light was on at full blast. After picking up my laundry from down the block, I remark to my aunt that the bathroom light is on again. I ask if it started working again or if she went and bought a new one. Doesn’t seem like too ridiculous a question since I’ve seen fluorescent bulbs that don’t work suddenly flicker back to life again. She looked at me like I was ridiculous, smiled kindly and said “Yes, I replaced it,” in a slightly condescending tone. Not the ‘man, you’re stupid’ condescension, but the ‘you’re such a young and naive country bumpkin’ condescension. After this she told me that either my cousin (who’s in his 40s) or I should feel free to do things like buy and replace the bathroom light bulb, that she’s not a maid.
I sometimes take issue with being asked to clean, as I never cook and usually spend no time in any room other than my room, whereas my cousins (her children and grandchildren) are always tearing through the house. She does this frequently; calmly suggests I should do this or that around the house. It’s not that I think it’s ridiculous, it’s just that they’re chores that I haven’t had to do in years and I’m a pedantic and lazy child. I didn’t realize you needed me to flip the sofa cushions – I haven’t had a sofa since I started college. You want me to mop my floor? Why? Were you thinking of going in there? It’s not like I’m going to be laying on it.
So I will be totally honest. I do not want to buy a light bulb for that bathroom, nor do I want to be responsible for replacing it. I saw before me a choice: either agree that I could in fact buy and change the light bulb and thereby accept another household chore as my responsibility, or convince my aunt I had no idea changing the light bulb was even possible and change the subject or leave the room before the duty could be assigned to me. My aunt already thinks I have no street smarts to speak of (despite having lived in both New York and D.C. for a cumulative 14 years), but I had to think about what was at stake here.
So now my aunt believes that I have never actually seen a circular light bulb in a home, and thought that the super needed to come change it. In her mind, I thought that circular fluorescent lights were only ever in fancy hotels and big city offices and that there existed not a single circular fluorescent light in all of Florida. She looked at me like I was a fool. And I felt dirty for how smug I felt.
But guess who she won’t be asking to change the light bulb?
I’m a terrible human being.