My Kind of Guy
December 10, 2008
The other day, I went to the Airtel office to change my billing address. I told you last week that nobody here ever goes to the telephone operator’s office. Well, now I know the reason.
There were two girls at the counter. Since Girl Number One was busy with people, I sat in front of Girl Number Two. She looked at me, then looked back at her computer screen.
“Excuse me?”, I asked.
I waited. She was frantically clicking on the mouse, her face blank. I leaned forward and peeped at her screen. She was doing a solitaire.
“Well, I said, would you please help me?”
She looked at me as if my disruption had just caused the Nikkei to drop down again – now she would have to get Taro Aso on the line before he’d cancel his billion-dollar ODA to India. Freaking annoying. She pointed towards Girl Number One and mumbled something like:
“Ino – hindi stuff – yougootherperson”
Girl Number One told me to wait. She was talking to a man sitting right next to me. He was dressed in the latest Bollywood “bad-boy” fashion: leather jacket, faded jeans, sunglasses and heavily gelled hair. She was telling him, in hindi, what papers he had to bring to finalize his subscription. Girl Number One had a lot of make up on and the confidence that semi-educated small town girls working in a sleek Airtel office can have. The guy wasn’t misbehaving but something in his body language and choice of words screamed: cocky. He was looking at the girl straight in the eye and wasn’t using the polite form of “you”: he said “tum” to her instead of “ap“, something that would badly offend any literate Indian girl, only, apparently, not her.
Girl Number One seemed to have finished her conversation with Cockypants and turned to me.
“Yes?” she asked.
I explained that I had moved house and needed my bills to be sent to my new address and what documents did she need me to bring to do that. But as I was talking, Cockypants turned his stool and was now completely facing me. He was very close and intensely staring at my right cheek. I was in no mood to start a scene, but it was kind of irritating.
“Is it interesting?” I said, turning towards him.
He didn’t expect vocal contact. He was still staring, but now slightly frowning.
“I am saying: is my conversation interesting? I don’t want to be rude, but you are making me uncomfortable.”
Now he was clearly disgusted. How dare a female put him in down in public? He barked at me:
“Oh but HELLO, you can’t make me GET OUT of here, so why don’t YOU get the FUCK out???!!!”
I was shocked by the total unrequested aggression. And pissed off.
Still, I thought it better not to commit a murder in an Airtel office. I would then need to get another phone operator, which would be a nightmare.
“Listen, I never said I wanted you to leave, I am just asking you to stop staring like that.”
Clearly, I asked for it.
“HELLOOOO!!!! You think I am LOOKING at YOU??? Seriously??!! At YOU??? Why would anyone want to look at YOU in the first place?? Do you see yourself in the mirror?? And do you think some people want to look at THAT??!!!”
“Get a grip,” I said, and turned back towards Girl Number One.
Now he was yelling:
“NO, YOU GET THE FUCK OUT!!!!”.
The cocksucker was getting out of control. And there was nothing I could do but ignore him. I could see it in his eyes : he was a violent jerk, and he would knock me down if I dared speak to him again. Believe me, it took some self-control. I was dying to throw a few niceties in his own mothertongue, probably something about his mother copulating with a donkey, or any other terribly offending things the Indians say about each other’s mothers. But I didn’t.
I fought back the tears. At that moment, I would have given anything to be in France, England, somewhere, anywhere, where the law is enforced, where there is a common shared civic sense, when no one can abuse someone else in public and where no man can hit a girl in a telephone operator’s office.
Believe it or not, Girl Number One was actually giggling.
With the jerk.
She gave me a sorry look, a look that meant: “Well, he was nice to me“. And you know what? I hated him, but I hated her even more for that. For watching a man publicly insult a woman and finding it cool. I felt genderly anger. Why had people fought for her rights as a woman? She didn’t deserve to vote, and she certainly didn’t deserve to be protected from domestic abuse. Don’t complain when your husband beats you up one day, you witless twat, I thought, this is all you deserve.
I know, this is an awful thought to have.
After, she didn’t agress me, he did.
But her behaviour, flirting with such an obnoxious wanker and watching me being abused without batting an eyelid – wait, actually : while feverishly batting her eyelids at the jerk himself – this I found ever more infuriating.