Brace for impact
A few years ago I was sitting with my daughter in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office and a nurse walked by, stopped dead in her tracks, and said, “What is that perfume smell?!?” It was me. And I was mortified. I had been trying out a new perfume (I’m vaguely obsessed with fragrances) and it was a very unique, sweet scent, and I had been concerned that it was too strong and now my fears had been confirmed. But of course the nurse didn’t know that. She didn’t know that I’m actually an enormously sensitive person who can be bothered by something like that for days. In fact, I never wore the perfume again, and here I am, several years later, still affected by the experience almost every time I smell a fragrance. I often wonder if the experience had the same impact on the nurse. I passed her in the hallway as we were leaving and I did make some kind of comment that I hoped my perfume hadn’t offended her. She looked a little alarmed and said that she hadn’t meant to say it out loud!
I wonder about other instances - a friend and I, both Jewish, were at a trade show, and customarily at the end of a show you go around and make deals on products from other people’s booths. We went up to one woman and asked if we could get a lower price on something and she said no, and that she was tired of people trying to “Jew” her down. We walked away, shocked, but we decided to turn back and say something. We told her that we were both Jewish and that it was so enormously offensive to hear someone say that. She was upset and said that “a lot of her friends are Jewish” and that it’s “just a saying” and she didn’t mean it. But the comment left its mark and I hope it did have an impact on her and that she never, ever says that again.
My children get embarrassed because I’m so outspoken, rather ironic for someone who is so sensitive, I know. But I like to teach them to speak up - to interact, to give feedback. And yes, tons and tons of positive feedback. I will be the first person to comment on a stranger’s hairstyle or a server’s good manner. My point, however, is how long lasting human emotion is. Something we say, both positive and negative, can had the most indelible impact on people. How many times have I made a comment that has left a mark on someone? I guess it’s all just part of human interaction, how we communicate with each other and the impact we have when we do so. But it’s certainly a little interesting nugget of thought.
And yes, I’m still searching for the perfect fragrance and will take suggestions, thanks.