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The Trap Of The Emperor’s New Clothes

Maybe it is just me, but every so often I have moments of potential revelation when someone about myself or the world around me suddenly seems to become clear in a way that perhaps it had not done previously. This includes insights into what makes me tick, which I think about because it helps me to better handle when things do not go according to plan and/or how I react to things that bit more positively, in other words if you understand what can make yourself a bit difficult to be with then perhaps you can avoid situations that bring out the worst in you or at least deal with them without being quite so much of an arse.

I have already rambled I think about my inability to deal with grace over last minute changes of plan (any plan, but especially one that I had hatched), but an incident before Christmas has struck me as indicative of another thing I find very difficult.

It was simple enough; the Lovely Wife and I were having a day out in London and we were just getting on the Underground. However, my ticket stuck in the machine for reasons that were not obviously apparent. As I stood there like a lemon wondering what to do and trying not to be crushed in the tsunami of humanity that is London St Pancras on a Saturday in December (come to think of it, at any time) the clearly malfunctioning barrier switched its display scheme from cards/Oyster to ‘Oyster only’ (for non-Londoners reading this, Oyster is the preloaded card system that the London Underground uses).

Thanks to the Lovely Wife, I was attended on by staff member who rescued my ticket. Then he ruined it by pointing out that the barrier said ‘Oyster only’.

Not when I put my ticket in, I raged internally. And I failed to thank him as much as I should of.

Thinking back, I know why. Whether he meant it or not, the ‘Oyster only’ comment was taken by me as ‘you’re an idiot and it is your fault’. Now, I am not so bothered by the second part, there are lots of thing through my life where miss steps, big and small are completely or largely due to my own damn self. That’s not a problem for me. On the other hand, feeling I have been made or have made myself look stupid is an entirely different thing, even in front of people I do not know, will never meet again and probably could not give a monkey’s anyway. Also, it is not being seen as silly or playing the fool, or being a laughing stock – that’s me most of the time anyway. No, it is being seen as being stupid is what I cannot stand. I can read, thank you very much. I have plenty of nice qualifications I actually worked for (albeit only as hard as I had to, I’ll admit that anything I’m not completely engaged with becomes and exercise is ‘what is the minimum I can get away with?’) and actually I think I can be pretty practical and pragmatic (just do not ask me to translate that into actually using my hands to deliver a solution; something seems to go wrong between the idea and the physical resolution usually).

I have the same problem as the Emperor and his people have in the Emperor’s New Clothes – they don’t want to appear stupid by pointing out the bleeding obvious that their leader has been done over by con men and is completely starkers.

I had not really thought of this before but once the lightbulb went on it was clear that, for whatever reason, this is something that really gets to me – being seen as stupid when I am not and I have not done – in my opinion of course – anything to deserve that image. If I want to parade naked around the streets of Hull painted in blue for three hours with a freezing wind off the North Sea trying to make me go even bluer I’ll admit that in a lot of people’s books that’s a bit dumb.

But I am capable of following simple instructions.

(If I bother to read them)


One thought on “The Trap Of The Emperor’s New Clothes

  1. Insight into oneself can be excruciating. What did TS Elliot say, ‘The mass of humankind cannot take too much reality’ and I find that, specifically, that has most to do with reality about oneself! But also, cheer up! You are not alone! Most people are equally sensitive to appearing to be stupid. This verse sprang to mind: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Keep up the Human-Being. Teal

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