Post High School, Age 18
In my first days working, I was at a retail store. One of the many tasks we were to do was to greet customers as soon after they came in as we could. One evening a woman came into an otherwise vacant store. I had not been behind the counter when she entered. When customer population dwindled I was tasked to go out into the isles arrange products per company preference. I heard her enter, though I was low on the floor so she did not see me. I entered the service area with registers as far from her as I could. I bid her good evening a healthy distance away. Even so, she was alarmed that I was suddenly there. She went into another part of the store. After she seemed to settle in an aisle I exited the register area and went back to my prior task. Awhile later she was wandering around the store looking for something. I had noticed her agitation before so I was wary to say anything to her. However, on her third trip around the aisles (all while not noticing me again somehow) I asked if she needed help finding anything. Again, she was caught off guard and hurried to distance herself from me. About twenty minutes after this, she approached the registers with an armload of items. However, she stopped short and asked if anyone else was working at that time. I called my manager to the front and he rang her up. She gave me a wide berth on her way out. My manager called me over and asked if I had been following her. I hadn’t been, nor did he think that I would have been inclined to. It was the woman’s’ concern. Sadly, I could not have handled that any differently while attending to my tasks. The only note that was given was to, in fact, be less attentive to customers.
At the original fright, I admit I found myself a bit gleeful. I had a rough several months leading up to this job. A passive joy back in school was being able to surprise someone by seeming to simply appear from nowhere. It was good to see that I “still had it”. I am sad it came at this womans’ expense, especially in hindsight. Doubly so having listened to Anecdotes of Womanhood, if you will, and having a keener understanding of their walk through life.
As with the old woman when I was four and the mother and child with the balloon more recently, I have no idea what the woman saw when she looked at me. At this age, I was keenly aware of the discomfort I instilled in some people. I saw her reaction to me, and even when giving her space I failed to correct the situation.
Also, during this time, I noticed that many people were set on edge by my voice. I used what singing training I had to begin speaking in different ranges and cadences, settling on a higher range after a few weeks. To this day I speak in this elevated place and am hard pressed to return to my natural voice.
Becoming an adult, now being wholly on my own, left me feeling alienated in a way I hadn’t been before. None of my friends knew where I lived, no one had reason to casually stop by, and I lacked any steady communication medium.
Due to my freshman year back in high school, I had already altered my speech for the sake of easier integration into my new environment. My vocabulary still abides by those old limitations.
This may come across as melodramatic. At times I feel I have lost my voice.
I communicate my ideas fluently. While I am used to how I have made myself sound publically, I miss knowing that my voice is in fact my own. The problem is that everyone who has known me since I began working is used to my voice as it is now. Only a couple handfuls of people know what my actual voice sounds like. It takes me twenty minutes or so after I awaken to get “in tune”. And as I usually sequester myself for an hour. Few have heard me speak in my natural register. The few that have expressed marked surprise. I am sure that, if I explain my friends will support the shift.
In fact, I may do just that.