Day Ten; Footnotes on Lessons on Culture Learned

Sometimes you learn something that just makes you feel foolish…or worse.

 In the middle of a conversation today we were discussing a multitude of topics as they popped up, interrelated or from totally out beyond left field. Still, everything just fit. I actually love conversations like that because you realize that you can learn so much about people, their pets, their ways, their fears. Even the fears they may attempt to deny.

It is easy at times to have an intellectual type conversation. Pick a topic, break it down into subtopics, dissect the parts, see it from all sides and possibilities. Discuss until you have reached a joint agreement or an agree to disagree stance.

Pick a topic, say space exploration. Discussing the pros and cons of the sending people to the moon or Mars or out for a joy ride and back. Discuss the logistics, the risks, the vast amount of knowledge that could be gained. Plan the trip, all that is involved. The craft that would transport, the need for how to get back, how to collect the different types of information. The conversation would last right up until and beyond lift off. 

Topics of health, careers, hobbies, all are informational, interesting and can be entertaining.

But today, the conversation that carried out like a verbal ping pong match where you were not one hundred percent positive which was it would go, was much more fun.

At one point, we were discussing dogs and the dogs that had been a part of our various families. How the dogs were currently have as part of our family seem to have flipped the role of master and pet. Forget reminding us of dinner time, that’s nothing. They have their methods of letting us know when they believe it to be time for bed. And they don’t mess around with it either.

We discussed squirrel and how entertaining it is to watch their antics. I thought it funny watching them torment my dogs because they have figured out where the dogs can go and can’t, and how far their reach is on the trees in the yard. But I will admit, after listening to the set up one person had, I am considering setting up a squirrel obstacle course in my backyard. I will wait a while before greasing the wires though. 

Practical jokes played on coworkers was covered. After hearing some of what was pulled elsewhere, I know now that my little verbal jokes are child’s play. Sure, I can convince someone they are hearing voices when they look everywhere but in my direction. Yes, people can catch me off guard and startle me. But then, all that jumping can also be considered exercise can it not? But some of that other.. yeah, I’m glad I didn’t work with those folks. 

Which brought in the things that scare us.

Snakes is obviously one of the worst. The fact that most folks don’t know which snakes are venomous and which aren’t or how to tell the difference, they fear all of them. Snakes also have a bad rap anyway. Years ago there was this western miniseries that I caught in part. In one segment they were crossing a river and suddenly one of the characters was attacked by water moccasin. The water boiled with the activity giving the appearance of a piranha attack. I didn’t watch anymore of the series. My own mother is terrified of snakes, all snakes. Me, I have acquired a fascination for them, along with a healthy respect.

 Spiders are another thing that creates a deep fear. They are creepy, are sizes that can hide or park your car. As long as I see them first, I’m not afraid of them. I understand their purpose, and have a degree of interest in them as with the snakes. I also hold a concern over the ones that want to hide in closets and bite such as the brown recluse. If they are outside, I love to try to capture them in photos. If they are inside my house, they best hope my son is home when they are spotted. He will capture and release. I will send them to meet their maker. 

By now you’re wondering if the first comment was merely a click bait type sentence, what lesson did I learn that made me feel foolish today.

 In the midst of the conversation I told a story I’ve told often. I had found the event funny at the time, and in every retelling  of the story afterward. I simply could not understand the reactions at the time. 

Several years ago while at work, I was crossing the department to see several machine operators in a dead panic. They were pointing at something and jumping backward. Moving in circles as wide as the machine would allow. With each passing moment they were growing more and more frantic. At first glance, I thought all manner of possibilities. Someone was injured that I couldn’t see. There was a bird in the floor (for some reason they were afraid of the birds that got into the plant-Clay, Yessi do you know the possible reason?) I feared maybe a fire I didn’t see, another snake had gotten inside the plant. That had happened on a couple of occasions since there was a retaining pond at the time out back.

 When I walked around the corner of the machine, I was dumbfounded to see a very small lizard. Maybe an inch and a half long. A pretty blue green lizard like I had seen hanging more than once on the side of my house. I  looked from person to person with a, you’re kidding me, look. But they were seriously terrified of this tiny lizard. I reached down and managed to grab it with my hands, which resulted in squeals of the most painful sort. I carried the small lizard to the door to outside and when a coworker opened the door, released it back into the wild.

I turned around to see the stares of the operators at what I had just done. I told them simply, “It was just a lizard, its okay.” Going to wash my hands I shrugged it off even as I thought it a bit silly to be so afraid of something so small. 

When I told that story today, in a condensed version that still held the pertinent parts, I got schooled, politely. I was asked about the nationality of those afraid. When I replied that they were Hispanic, I was informed that in parts of the country there are lizards that while beautiful, are highly poisonous. I, knowing that the lizard in the plant was harmless, they, thinking of what they knew in their culture, did not. As far as they knew, this was just another venomous cousin from up north. 

Now, I understand their fear, and it isn’t so silly. Something does not have to be large to be deadly. This event happened a few years ago, some lessons take a while to come home. The fact that my ignorance of culture was showing, my schooling was handled with an understanding of that lack of knowledge. At that moment in time, I was not seeing them as Hispanic. I was looking at people I had worked with for years, and seeing them as such.

 I think today, I got the lesson and reminder that even as we are the same in being human, we are still different. We have our individual personalities. We have our individual cultures. We have our individual histories. We have our individual fears. Even as we seek to become closer and stronger, it is important that we realize that there are differences that make us who we are. That acquiring an understanding of those differences, can help bring us closer.

Harmless worm snake. Yet in the minds of others, still a snake, something to be feared.

About rebecca s revels

A writer, a photographer, a cancer survivor. An adventurer of the mild kind, a lover of the simple pleasures such as long walks and chocolate. A Christian unashamed of my faith and a friend who is dependable and will encourage readily. Author of three self published books with more waiting to find their way to paper. An advocate of good things, a fighter against wrongs.
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