Why I give self-appointed giants out there short shrift

Mapula Nkosi That's Life
Tall and short concept
Tall and short concept
Image: 123rf/captainvector

The only thing left for the sales lady to do was to muse my hair and pat me on the head in the old fashioned way an adult always does to a child when they shower them with compliments.

Except here I was a client in a fashion boutique and the sales lady in question was trying to sell me a dress. She had already asked me to twirl, which I had no problem doing except her demand came in a nasal tone usually used by moms praising toddlers.

I told her I was not the twirling type and watched her face as she checked herself and her boundaries.

The incident is but one of the many examples I am used to of the interesting dynamics between tall and short people and the many perceptions tall people have against us shorties. Call it the short person's syndrome if you like, but that is often the hilarious realities I see every day.

In general tall people command a room by virtue of their stature, irrespective of whether they have two brain cells to rub together or not. Being short, it is often necessary to talk louder and firmer in any situation just to be heard.

What has fascinated me, though, is the kind of service one gets when people feel your lack of height somehow equates to your brain cell being the size of a pea and here are some of the behaviour I have noticed when tall people render me some service.

If you go to any service point and find a tall person busy with a personal telephone call, as they would be loud enough for you to hear the conversation, in many instances than most they continue the conversation because in their eyes your miniature status relegates you to a child.

Note that there are many adults who think they are entitled to satisfying their needs first over that of anyone not seen as an adult.

Tall people always give you the 'mommy' look. I also call it the Catholic school boarding master's no-nonsense stare. It is the kind of look that tells you the tall person is watching you for any signs of mischief - somehow always associated with little people.

Basically, even when it is not called for, the tall person will, in a public space, designate themselves into some form of class prefect. They will be ready to wag the finger at any short person 'talking loudly in a library, not following the queue in a bank, or driving through an amber light at the robots'.

In defence to them I guess, they often do mistake petite people for children and this is their natural reaction to maintaining law and order. The situation turns nasty when the tall person becomes defensive when you point out their unwarranted behaviour.

Tall people in the service industry such as fast food joints, cinemas, retail stores, etc, often serve you with a bored look on their faces, or worse, literally talk over your head while 'helping' you.

They brazenly do this with anyone, but are at their best when they think of you as a child who poses no threat.

My personal favourite is the tall people's favourite joke of all time, that they would like you to participate in every time they meet you. "Oh, I thought you would be a few inches taller when I meet you again," they say chuckling out loud.

Like if you had seen me three years ago as an adult in all the glory of my lack of height, did you honestly think I had a magic wand that defies biology and would simply utter some abracadabra and voila! I would miraculously be six inches taller?

I normally pull a serious face when they try this one and watch as the chuckle dies a sheepish death.

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