Fear of Asking

This morning, in the supermarket, I witnessed an elderly lady tearing apart a beefsteak with her bare hands. 

“Good luck,” I thought remembering that only a month ago I broke my food processor by being lazy enough not to cut the meat before putting it between the blades.

I’ve spent some time watching an old lady stabbing her filthy fingers into the meat and trying to tear those stubborn ox’s fiber. I even took a short video of her, but she didn’t mind much.

Then, I moved on, minding my own business.

After I filled my shopping basket with fruit and vegetables, weighed it, I passed by the meat fridge and the old lady was still there and tearing apart the meat; this time another beefsteak, which, in her eyes, looked more fragile.

Ever since I came back from the store, I’ve been thinking about that odd situation.

Firstly, I was stunned that none of the staff approached and said:

“Get your filthy hands from that meat. You’re going to pay for everything you’ve touched.”

Someone would have said that in Serbia; in not the staff then a customer would have told her.

Secondly, how is it possible that none of the staff came and cut the damn beefsteak for her?

Finally, how is it possible that the old lady couldn’t ask anyone to cut the steak in half, or why she didn’t simply buy the whole thing and split it by herself at home and save the other half for some other time?

I wonder – whose is to blame for what had happened?

Indifferent workers who thought – not my problem, or not my job?

The old lady who for some odd reason decided to do the job by herself?

The customers who didn’t point out the obvious problem?

Or everybody?

I’d say everybody.

Indifference is something common, especially when we’re dealing with strangers. We would more often help someone familiar than someone completely unimportant to us.

It’s not an excuse, but it happens. We simply can’t help everybody, especially in these dumb situations.

However, the most intriguing was the old lady’s action.

Was her fear or her pride forcing her to hammer that piece of meat with her hands like a wild animal which has just found a carrion and it can’t move it, but it needs to bring a piece of meat to its hungry offspring or they will starve to death?

I assume it was fear of asking; I often had close encounters with that beast.

Whenever I needed to ask a question in the class, to talk to a girl who I liked, to visit any institution, to talk to anyone whose response I couldn’t predict, I would back off and wait for someone to do the filthy job for me; usually my parents or friends; because who else would be silly enough to do that instead of me without my inquiry.

I wonder, through which struggles are we willing to go by ourselves, if we can’t ask for help when dealing with such a trivial thing?

Is this fear the reason why we avoid seeing a doctor or a shrink?

Is this fear the reason why we don’t ask for help when our husband molests us, when we have drinking, drugs, or other addiction problems?

Is this fear the reason why we hide our work?

If it is, what’s the solution?

The simplest solution would be the nike slogan – just do it.

For some reason, it’s not as easy as it seems.

Those who realized that going through life is much easier if they ask for help enjoy all the benefits of communication and a life in a community.

The others chop their meat by hands.