8 – 08/02/16

People Watching

Stood on a packed train this evening, engaging in a little people watching, I 
noticed a tall guy wearing a lanyard. The writing on the lanyard indicated to me 
that he worked for a hospital trust which provides care for people with mental 
illness. This guy's appearance was on the scruffy side, wearing trousers that 
fit the bracket between casual and formal, faded from many washes and in need of 
an iron. A limp shirt under burgundy chunky knitwear and tatty, white Addidas 
trainers completed his attire. He had a banana protruding from his coat pocket. I 
considered asking him for the banana because I was feeling anxious and faint and 
the sugar may have helped. 

I began wondering what role he fulfilled at the hospital trust; support 
services, property maintenance or something similar I imagined. 
I tried to read the writing on his I.D card without being noticed, difficult 
with my poor eyesight and stupid varifocal lenses. I was shocked to eventually 
decipher the words under his name ( Ali something, I've forgotten the surname 
already ), " Clinical Psychologist ". This led me to reconsider seriously asking 
him for the banana because he was a man who might understand the needs of an 
anxious woman standing on a packed train. 

The point of me writing this is because I concluded that aesthetics and function 
do not go hand in hand. " Never judge a book by its cover."

In my experience psychologist are often of a particular type, prone to 
alternative appearance, "hippyness" or just not rating appearance very highly on 
their list of priorities. I have observed this in other intellectuals too. 
With the rise of acceptability and popularity of tattoos, I have in the past had 
conversations with myself about why I would still rather certain professionals 
keep them hidden ? ( I do try not to succumb to stereotypes but we're all human 
and they do have a purpose so I'm not going to be too hard on myself. ) 

When I eventually got a seat on the train my thoughts turned to institutions 
and how I have always felt comfortable in schools, hospitals and places which
provide care regardless of whether I was giving or receiving that care. Such
places have a visual language, pale pink walls ( to keep people calm 
apparently ) and those low, square, upholstered but armless chairs where one 
is invited to sit for difficult conversations; institution chairs I call them, 
usually accompanied by a box of tissues of undistinguishable brand on an equally 
low table. 

For some reason I felt compelled to write this all down as soon as I got home, 
maybe because I am so forgetful, maybe to remind myself not to judge or to 
accept that we all judge and are judged. But certainly to remember that just 
because something looks efficient it isn't necessarily so, and vice versa.  


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