As a child I was subject to frequent insult.
It was never at the hands of my parents. They treated me with love and care and I never remember harm from them. I hope I did not insult them, though a teenager would probably venture to. I hope it was not often.
In schools, it came often – but again I’m happy to say that it was rare from school teachers or staff. I can really only remember contemptuous remarks from two Phys-Ed teachers in all my school days. They would have seen me as a poor athlete and discovered my disinterest in their subject early on. There was little bullying, but no respect.
The students, however, were insulting as they could be – and I learned very quickly to avoid or return their remarks. It could not have been otherwise as I was so frequently the new kid in class – the one who had to be put in his place. This was never the top one in the child’s pecking order, and my stay at a school was rarely long enough to see promotion. My best experiences were had when forgotten by the others.
Insult in the university years was also a daily occurrence – Whether it was the habit of academia or some sort of a training exercise used by the dental faculty is a moot question. Certainly the 1st year Physics lecturer was that way because he was a Briton trapped in a former colony and unlikely to ever get back to Oxford or Cambridge. Insult was a way of venting his disappointments. One learned to sit back in the hall.
The up-close and personal insult in the dental clinics were something else again. Here recently-graduated practitioners unable to find any practice that would take them on tutored the undergraduates and taught them to endure the unpleasant. I had already learned this and was not shocked. The only occasions where it raised my hackles was a dismissive speech made at my wedding made by Dr. John Lewis and a scolding letter sent me by a specialist some years later to whom I referred a patient – the said practitioner having been one of the dental school demonstrators. Apparently he had risen above taking patients in modest circumstances. That was pretty much it for practical insult during my dental career.
Ah, but then I went from a profession to a trade…and read on tomorrow…