Well, it had happened again. It doesn’t happen all that often. But every now and then it pops out of someone’s mouth, headed in my direction. The idea that ‘big things come in small packages’. Myself, I instantly think here of hand grenades. But the comment is always meant kindly …
In this case, I was at the local roast (free-range) chicken shop, ordering a quarter portion of roast chicken (leg, ‘house chook’) with a small salad, a small serve of roast veggies and – what shall I go with here? – I think – a small gravy. I have to admit, there definitely was a small theme developing here. With a meeting of eyes, I acknowledged this with the woman across the counter who was taking my order. We knew each other a little – I regularly go in for a quarter chicken – leg – house chook.
It was at this point, though, that our understanding of the subtext of the conversation diverged.
What was in my mind, with all these small serves, was that before the recent break-up with my boyfriend, I might have ordered, say, a medium salad for him, along with other bits and pieces. But there would be no more need now for medium salads; it takes me several days to get through even a small one by myself. In the midst of humorously acknowledging the litany of small, small, small, I was acknowledging to myself that private little bit of sadness.
For a fraction of a second, it didn’t occur to me that her thoughts were headed the way they were, but then she said it and there it was: ‘Big things come in small packages!’ A bit sing-songy, as is usually the way with this particular line. I had totally asked for it. Or at least, experience should have taught me to totally expect it.
As you might have guessed by now, I’m quite a small person.
My normal response would have been to laugh companionably, perhaps to seethe just a little bit afterwards, and to then forget all about it, like the mature person that I am.
But what actually happened then was that it stuck with me. As I walked away with my chicken, salad, roast veggies and gravy in the brown paper bag, wondering why it is that people often feel absolutely compelled to make these comments, and chastising myself for even asking this question because it had all been so harmless and well-meant, I began fantasising about starting a blog. It would be called ‘From the desk of a tiny person’.
But what would be the point, you ask? What’s my issue, anyway, with a perfectly nice person saying a really harmless thing; in fact, probably even trying to show they were on my wavelength?
So I decided. I don’t want to seethe pointlessly. I want to look at difference – how we see it – how we react to it – and why sometimes the way we react is a problem.
To be honest, actually shining a light on this ‘difference’ business, instead of doing my best to absolutely ignore it, was the very last thing I’d have thought I’d ever do …