not serious; lighthearted.
To Benedict Cumberbatch:
My name is Catherine but you wouldn’t know that. I am the girl in the dress who humbly asked for an autograph at the end of your recording of the last episode of Cabin Pressure. I had not been fortunate enough to get a ticket to watch but I wanted to meet you. I am an American currently traveling abroad. It’s not all that glamorous traveling by cheap bus and sleeping in 18 bed dorm rooms in run down hostels but if you knew anything about me, you’d know it is exactly what I needed. What I should really be saying is that you don’t know anything about me and you have no reason to but that shouldn’t change the way you could have interacted with me this evening.
When I approached you this evening, I had not been a part of the crowd that had sprinted after you. In fact, I actually thought you had left but when I walked down the road and spotted you, I mustered up a heck of a lot of courage to quietly ask for an autograph. You, with a very annoyed tone, said you had already told them you were done taking pictures and when I asked for an autograph you denied me that as well. All I wanted, really wanted, was your stupid scrawl on a piece of paper. You don’t know me. You don’t know that I gained the friendship of a wonderful girl while I was in Vienna who is a big fan of yours. I told her if I met you that I would do everything I could to get her your autograph. I actually wanted to get her your autograph more than I wanted one for me. You see, I’m traveling alone and it is something I prefer. I can do what I want when I want. It does get lonely sometimes. It’s been over two months since I’ve been home. Meeting this girl to sit at Starbucks for a few hours was fantastic. It was just the right amount of socialization I needed in this exile I put myself in and I wanted to thank her for her company with something to show my appreciation for her friendship.
You didn’t just say no to me. You stripped me of my individuality. You placed me in your “collective” without a regard to my feelings. You assumed I had been in that group you must have denied. Had I been, I wouldn’t have approached you. I would have respected your direction. But I hadn’t and you did not even consider that so instead of having your words impersonally dilute themselves among a crowd, I found myself singularly targeted by your annoyance with no back up or shield against the concentrated negativity aimed directly toward my presence. I stood there with my cold hands in my pockets clenching my pen with my thumb aching to pop the cap off and the other trying not to mangle the postcard I had picked to send to my friend. I was so proud of the postcard I had picked and kept imagining her expression when she received it with your autograph instead of “Wish you were here!” on the back.
I get it though. You’re human. You were probably tired and hungry and it gets hard faking a smile for yet another fan. I know what it’s like. Back at home, I had been working as an EMT on an ambulance before I lost my job due to another’s incompetence. I loved my job despite being severely underpaid. I was working anywhere from 90 to 110 hour work weeks on top of volunteering for my local fire and ambulance company. It made my mother sick with worry. I ate, slept, and showered at work. I sometimes went entire shifts without a meal so that I could transport the elderly, sick, and dying between facilities or respond to emergencies. I honestly don’t complain about it because it was a choice I made. I wanted to help people, to make them feel better in their lowest moments, all while doing it with rarely receiving a thank you. You’d be surprised how abrasive people can be toward the ones helping them but I always kept a cheerful disposition; whether it was faked or not was another story. I never let them see the tired, the hungry, the stress. Who am I to judge when it could be the worst day of their lives? I didn’t know them just like you don’t know me and just like I don’t know you. I shouldn’t just assume you could fake one more smile or bury your resentment toward my brief interruption to your life. You had, after all, been kind enough to transfer your cigarette to your left hand so that you could oblige to my request for a handshake so I can’t be very upset. It wasn’t even a moment I will ever be able to recall with any sort of detail. My hand was numb with the cold and the entirety of the situation and I was terrified to even look at your face.
Had I been a dog, I would have been walking away with my head low to the ground enough to grind my nose in the pavement and my tail tucked between my legs as I tried to escape from you. I didn’t even want to be on the same street as you. I felt violently sick. I didn’t and still don’t know who to be mad at. Myself or you? But how can I be mad at you? Was I being selfish? Can I be entitled to just 30 seconds of selfishness after giving so much of myself to others and never asking for anything in return? Are you equally deserving of your own selfishness as you work to please others, though with garnering more respect?
My answers to these questions are really just a ball of confusion. All I know is that, for lack of eloquence as this seems to hit the nail on the head, you made me feel like shit. You made me resent myself for having the audacity to approach you. You clearly drew the line on the sidewalk and all those on my side were the unworthy except it was only me standing there embarrassed and horrified after being denied simply by saying hello.
I never planned on meeting you again after tonight before you refused me an autograph. I will never pay money to meet you in an assembly line. If I did, you’d be getting a mask that I’m familiar with putting on all too well. Had I gotten what would have taken less than half a minute of your life from you, I’d be happy as a clam for meeting you despite never really believing I would. Instead, tonight, I will go to sleep if I can. I will think about how you couldn’t hold a pen and fake a smile for me because it was too much and I wasn’t important enough. I will remember that I was personally denied by you. I will remember to continue to live by hoping for the best but always expecting the worst. I will hope that you never do to someone else what you did to me. I want you to remember that you don’t know your fans and for that reason you should be gentle with them whenever possible. I imagine you show your best qualities to the people who really matter but all I wanted was your autograph instead of feeling ashamed.
May this be a lesson to us both or perhaps just myself.
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