Me, at a conference

All this happened a while back but I keep remembering certain isolated incidents and laugh over them.

This must have been Fall 2017. I was at a conference where there were a bunch of activists. Some were patients and some were psychologists or other type of doctor.

The first thing I saw was a group of doctors standing around joking. I had already tried to say hello to them and they had ignored me like I wasn’t there. They kept congregating around one doctor who was telling jokes. They then told him, “Why don’t you write a book? Have you thought about that?”

I wanted to cry over the irony of the moment. Or laugh.

Yes, I write…but who really cares anyway? I did not say that, of course, but I thought it.

There was this activist there, a couple of them, that I said hello to or waved to, expecting at least a hello. Nothing. One of them repeatedly walked past me without even a nod or a smile. This affected me profoundly. Why did that happen? Maybe I’m invisible, I thought.

Then, someone introduced herself to me and said she had always wanted to meet me. I don’t think she really knew that this one gesture, a gesture of kindness and recognition, made the entire conference worthwhile.  A few others said hello, which I really appreciated. Do people even realize how important it is to recognize a person’s existence?

Decades ago I was with some other college students. Rolf Smedvig of the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave us a presentation. Afterward, we all went up to him for the purpose of asking questions. Rolf then deliberately embarrassed me. I never heard the end of it from my classmates, either.

People in high places have a huge effect on those around them. Ever go meet a rock star or sports star and have that person treat you like shit? Then you know. Did another person extend kindness to you? Bet you remember and cherish that moment.

I could do an entire speech, or possibly comedy act, on that Rolf Smedvig moment. I love being able to remember stuff that anyone else might have forgotten, and then, recreate that moment in words. I wish this skill was marketable! I’d be making a fortune.

2 thoughts on “Me, at a conference”

  1. It is very hard not to take such neglect and dismissal personally. I am having a similar experience in the French class I have taken since September. No one speaks to me even though the entire point of the class is conversation! Feel like I am doing somehting wrong but dunno what. It feels cruel, but I suspect they are not even aware of how I feel…I suspect too that this is also true In your situation as it takes too much energy to actively shun someone. And if they don’t like you they would not waste that energy! But I feel the rejection. In my soul I feel that rejection you experienced. It is the “story of my life”!

    1. Phoebe, I am so sorry you are treated that way. I remember when I tried to return to Bennington after I was already known as a patient. They were really terrible to me, the faculty dismissed me and the other students treated me similarly. I did not even try after a while. No one even cared about that, either.

Feedback and comments welcome!