[please note, the picture associated with the link is not me, unfortunately. she is much more beautiful.]
So hair dye. Not that controversial a topic, you'd have thought. Barely worth a mention on the internet. Well, apparently real life differs in its opinion of it.
I am, in general, a fairly inoffensive person. Fairly severe shyness means that I find conversing with people, especially strangers, quite difficult. I maunder quietly along, the only noticeable thing being that I use a wheelchair some of the time (no, I'm not "wheelchair bound" - nor am I faking when I'm using a wheelchair... but that's a subject for a whole other post). If I'm in a car, sitting down, or waiting at a shop till, I am Ms Anonymous.
Or I was, until I dyed my hair blue.
Apparently this minor change in my appearance is enough to trigger an extremely different reaction from strangers. This is the only explanation I can find for the fact that in the past three weeks, since dying my hair, I have attracted more rudeness and abuse than in the three years previous to that.
I went into Boots yesterday to collect my prescription. I waited in a queue, and was queue-jumped by an elderly gentleman. Now, I don't want to think about the sort of reaction which this would have provoked had I queue-jumped him. As it was, the pharmacy staff ignored it. Which okay, fair enough, I can see that it might be difficult to challenge someone you're supposed to be there to help. I didn't make a fuss for a similar reason.
However, I then waited... and waited... and waited... for someone to acknowledge my presence. Not even to help me: I could see that they were somewhat busy. But I stood at the counter for five or six minutes, directly in front of a member of staff, and wasn't even looked at. I've worked front-line jobs before, and I would always think to look up and say something like, "I'll be with you when I've finished X," or whatever. Equally, previous experiences at this pharmacy have been quite positive. Today's? TOTALLY DIFFERENT. I eventually went away without being served because I was not able to stand for any longer (see 'wheelchair user', above). And just for the record, this means that night I did not have all of the medications I need - and I had to make an entire new journey the following day in order to try and get them, which when you're severely disabled is not particularly easy.
I might have shrugged it off as just one of those things if it had been the first incident of its kind. But it wasn't.
There was the man who was driving in the opposite direction to me in a car. I pulled over to allow him room past, but apparently not with enough speed (it was, it should be said, equally his responsibility to leave room: it was a minor road with no right of way in either direction) who wound down his window to yell at me for not moving over quite fast enough.
There was the ice cream van woman who screamed at me for having the audacity to try and park in a designated parking spot in a public car park. It seems she felt she had a right to the space because she was parked in the spot next door and felt I would be in the way of her customers.
There was a man driving another car who refused to wind down his window when I made signals requesting that he did so. The reason I was making said signals was that there was a road blockage ahead, and I thought it would be kind to inform him so that he could turn round before getting stuck. (I'm afraid that although I am not usually vindictive, I can't help feeling that it would have been karmic justice if he then got stuck in an extremely long tailback.)
I dyed my hair an unusual colour. I thought it would be fun, and maybe even pretty. Instead, I've had an unexpected lesson in prejudice.
Afterword: I spoke to someone in Boots today, who apologised immediately and sincerely. I am feeling slightly less agin the world in consequence