Thursday, October 27, 2005


I have been pondering upon this issue of respect for the last few days, indeed months now, as I reflect upon my time volunteering for a variety of causes. The very phrase itself presents many a conundrum of meaning. From being a wisecracking wide-boy down with da yardies, to an upstart political party fronted by a man with a questionable ‘tash, to the wish of an elder for how to be treated. Ultimately what it all comes down to is the art of the human interaction. Now why this issue came up is due to personal feelings of un-respect towards myself accompanied by a reflection upon the work that I put in. The issue with that is that it may then appear on a purely egotistical level when in reality it is the opposite. It is almost to placate the ego but to feel self worth rather than self-loathing. To illustrate a possible over-stretched point I shall recount the following two tales. I stewarded at a festival this year that caters for around 30,000 people and all their needs. One of their obvious needs is the wish all to attend the same event at the same time. Thus it is time for the stewards to shine and establish orderly and decent ques that combine light entertainment with a nod towards health and safety at the same time. This is done through a mixture of head counting and discussion with que members so they know what is going on. Now due to the flexible timing of all events ques do tend to suddenly magnify at certain times and this was one such occasion. The que had leapt up in a matter of second from 50 to 150 and was beginning to present an issue. Therefore I walked along this line head counting to see if there was enough space in the venue for all. Midway along I was stopped by an off duty steward who duly told me that the que was far too disorganised and that it really should be sorted out right now. After quietly telling said person that I was in the process of doing that I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed because that person had belittled me in front of the crowds when I was in the process of doing the job. The steward in question was off duty and yet was clearly identifiable by the large stewards tag being worn. This may not seem like a major issue to some of you. But imagine this – you are put in charge of doing a job and you are in the process of ensuring it is being done. As you are in the process of doing it the person who did it before you, even though they no longer do said job, stops you and tells you that you haven’t done a good job. All this done in front of your work colleges. The humiliation and sickening feeling is still with me. I do not know what prompted that steward to interact with me on this level, no doubt it was genuine concern but it didn’t stop that fundamental line being crossed. That of once you are doing a job you decide how it goes and when you stop you cannot interact with the new person unless they invite it. True respect is about an underlying trust in other people’s abilities. This can be from not attacking me as I walk down the street (trust of an unknown person – often from certain socio-economic backgrounds) to the simple trust that when I switch on the radio I am listening to the news and not just opinion. That sense of respect, which can be shared, has to be earnt; but only by being a passive bystander and commenting post events about alternatives or if the person invites comment. A dis-respectful approach is where another tells others (uninvited) not only how but also why and if about a situation or an action and often undermines the feelings of others. Take Care y’All John

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