I call them The Others, because… well, because they are Not Like Me, really.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I hasten to add. After all, why SHOULD everyone in the world be like me? Exactly.
So I call them The Others, not because I don’t like them, but simply because I don’t understand them.
The Others confuse me. They do things that make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
Like whistling, for instance.
Like replying to someone’s question about a product on Amazon, purely to say, “I don’t know, I’ve never used it.”
Or posting on Facebook to brag about how they’ve never seen a popular TV show or movie.
Or… just posting on Facebook, basically.
Like responding to articles about celebrities to say, “Who is this person?” when they could just have Googled it, putting their phone on loudspeaker then holding it parallel to their mouth, rather than just putting it against their ear, or getting into an almost-empty train carriage and choosing to sit right next to the ONE other person in it.
(OK, I actually DO kind of hate them for that one, to be totally honest…)
The Others do all of these things and more. As well as the things that are a little bit strange or annoying, however, The Others also do things that aren’t even remotely strange, but which are still, nevertheless, completely incomprehensible to me. So, they’re the girl in the gym who always used to take the treadmill right next to mine (Even though there were 20 others she could have used, none of which were uncomfortably close to another person), but they’re also the new mum on Instagram who has her hair done, and her makeup immaculate, less than an hour after birth.
They’re the man who once stopped me outside the doctor’s surgery to “warn” me that there was a woman in a hijab inside (Much, much more than simply “annoying” obviously…), but they’re also the people who always seem to know the right thing to say, and who get up at 5am to run a half-marathon every morning, before putting in a full-day’s work, and then cooking a delicious, home-made dinner from scratch. How do they do it? I will never know.
I first discovered The Others at the age of 18, when I started working weekends in a call centre, to pay my way through university. Working at the call centre – or “the Phone Farm”, as I thought of it – had already made me hate everyone in the entire world, with a few small exceptions (My parents, my best friens, my grandad’s dog, Chico… that was petty much it, really.): I would walk around glaring at everyone suspiciously, wondering if THEY were the ones who ‘d called that morning and threatened to come round and break both my legs if I didn’t send someone to fix their TV yesterday.
And EVERY call was like that: dozens and dozens per day, adding up to hundreds per week, thousands per month, millions over a few years. There were so many angry people in the world: people who presumably looked just like everyone else, but who would, at the drop of a hat, or the momentary loss of cable transmission, transform into a crazed ball of range, lashing out at everyone in their path, and screaming themselves hoarse because they were missing Eastenders that night.
They were everywhere, these people – these Others, as I called them. Anyone could be an Other. It could be the woman I’d bought a sandwich from in Boots at lunchtime, or the man who held the door open for me as I left. It could be the street sweeper I passed on the way to work, or any one of the completely normal-looking people who filled the streets each day: any one of them could go home, realise their TV wasn’t working, and then pick up the phone and verbally abuse someone over it.
It could be you.
It could even be me, given the right set of circumstances. Because, the fact is, we’re ALL a bit “other” to someone, aren’t we? So, go on then, tell me: what’s “other” to you?
(*The Others are also a group of characters from the noughties TV show, Lost, which is where I adopted this name for them. Needless to say, that’s NOT who I’m referring to in my posts about them, though…)