Fiction On Odyssey: Of Monsters And Men

Fiction On Odyssey: Of Monsters And Men

To uphold the face of a monster in front of a hateful society was purely ironic, yet humans would never acknowledge that they were the true monsters.

The small stones from the sidewalk some toddler briskly walked on crunched with each step, leaving me satisfied as I could imagine the little rocks breaking underneath the soles of her gray sneakers. Cliché enough, the day had been nothing short of perfect so far, and the sun shining just enough behind the clouds only added to the light relief I felt throughout my body.

There were a few birds chirping here and there, but the sound of a man’s shouting distracted me from the peacefulness unwrapped around me, directing my attention to the scene unfolding just a few feet away. As I sat silently near the gravel pathway with the wind blowing against my face, I saw the woman on the bench with the royal blue hijab hold tightly to her black faux leather purse, the contorted look in her elegant eyes clearly demonstrating a sign of danger.

That man wore a bright red vest on top of his dark blue turtleneck, an outfit he somehow made look worse than it already sounded. He'd inch closer to her with his anger-filled footsteps, and I could hear the force with which he stomped the soles of his shoes on the ground.

“Say, lady, mind showing me what’s under that scarf?” he taunted.

I couldn’t move, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t convince myself to pick up my feet off the ground and walk over to her before any further damage would ensue. I was screaming internally out of guilt and frustration to just take one step forward, but my brain shouted back differently, warning me that the danger would fall on my hands if I shuffled any closer.

But her eyes were intriguing, more than anything else. The hijab she wore was a rich blue diamond, complemented by the sunlight that fell perfectly on top of the silk-like fabric, and she had large brown eyes that stood out even further because of the sea of blue that shielded her hair. I wanted, more than anything else, to go up to her and talk to her, and maybe we could be friends.

Maybe we could have been friends had I simply walked forward.

The scenario progressed further, with his taunting turning into cold-hearted, raw insults, and the mask he wore beforehand that shielded his words from becoming pure hatred was ripped off.

All I saw was destruction in his eyes.

All I saw was the pure, unfiltered hatred he was so determined to inflict in her direction, and it was so strange to me that on such a lovely day, people could still find a way to let the bigotry seep through. I waited even longer, even patiently to an extent. I wanted to just see her stand up and walk away, or she could even tell him off. There were hundreds of different actions I wanted her to take to show that no matter what he tried to instill in her mind, she was worth more than the flick of his tongue against his teeth when he uttered each syllable.

She sat there, and her expression was unmoving. He pounced on her with derogatory statements that I could not find myself bearing to hear, even if I wasn’t the target.

“If it wasn’t for you Muslims, maybe our country would be safe again, right? Isn’t that right, ya terrorist?” he yelled at this point. “Isn’t it true that all y’all you do all day’s discuss with your Muslim friends the best ways to destroy my country?”

“I have done nothing to hurt you,” she finally spoke. Although those were her first words I had heard her utter, I wish I could convey the amount of emotion she held with her statement. There was no sign of trembling in her voice, but her face was solemn and calm.

I thought she was being too cowardly because she refused to stand up straight and tall and tell him off for his uneducated and emotional behavior. There wasn’t any sign of a crowd gathering, for it was just me waiting to see what would happen next.

“Take off your hat,” he commanded.

She finally turned up to look at him for the first time.

“Excuse me?” she asked, taken aback by his sudden comment.

“I said it loud and clear, lady. Take off that hat.”

SEE ALSO: To The Boy Who Yanked Off My Hijab

I could feel the heat radiating from her, the anger in her face extremely apparent. Her intriguing eyes had changed from understanding of his perspective to becoming full of rage, but I couldn’t blame her. To walk up to a stranger and torment her for her religion, I could not find that to be acceptable. But I still couldn’t find courage in her actions, no matter how hard I tried to look for the silver lining in the way she composed herself. Maybe I could give her credit for the relaxed position she sat in, though she was more on-edge now than before.

“Leave her alone,” I thought I had stated loud enough for him to hear, but the words only came out as a whisper. “Leave her alone.”

Though I was waiting for her find the strength to stand up and walk away, I couldn’t even muster up enough dignity to defend that same person.

Surprisingly, he left just at that instance, and it wasn’t until I saw a group of teenagers walk by that I understood why he had suddenly gone from a madman to a quiet passerby in a crowd of people.

But who was the real monster in the scenario?

I had replayed that moment in my head over a million times as I watched people walk down that sidewalk the rest of that morning, and I didn’t even try crossing a few more feet to talk to the lady with the blue hijab. I had just sat there, sometimes staring at her occasionally shifting her position, and that same lack of respect made me question if I was partially at fault for what had happened.

Maybe I wasn’t the one directly putting down others and spitting out rash commentary, but I let it happen. To most people, he was the monster during those few minutes of verbal abuse that made her feel like she was absolutely nothing, but I knew I wasn’t overanalyzing the situation when I concluded that my position as a bystander only made the situation worse.

I wish I could have the ability to turn back time and reach out to her, and just that gesture would have been enough for him to walk away, just as he did when the teenagers passed by. His demeanor was so quiet when he left, but his mind was screaming with fear, portrayed through the anger he felt like letting out on someone he had simply found to be an easy target. I didn’t know who he was or how his lifestyle was outside of that scene, but I knew that he had ruined her day. It was obvious on her face, too, when she replaced her dignified look with relief and exhaustion.

And it dawned on me why she was so kept during his outburst: she had experienced this before. More than anything else, that broke my heart.

“Yes, Amma, I’m fine,” I heard her say into her phone after dialing a number. She still clutched her purse close to her chest.

The tears rolled down her face faster than I could keep up with her change in emotions, and I had to redact my original opposition to her reaction to the man. The courage in her actions was none other than the power to shut down what he had to say, and even that had the ability to take the life out of her. I should have known better than to call her out for this in a situation where someone else was doing much worse.

She took the bus home from that bench on the sidewalk, and I wished in those final moments that I had the ability to move. It was never easy being the statue of a gargoyle, especially when I was considered the monster myself. The image I had to uphold in front of a disturbingly-hateful society was purely ironic, for it was not I who had just put down someone of my own species. It was the humans, who loved so much to prove that even if they were monsters, everything else around them was worse.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Also, please note that this has been an essay previously submitted as an assignment in a class.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Pedro Lastra

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.


Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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How to Boost Minority Voices on College Campuses

An ideal college campus has a healthy dose of diversity that reflects the real world


An ideal college campus has a healthy dose of diversity that reflects the real world. Unfortunately, due to cost of attendance and geographical location, most college campuses have a skewed population. Minority students sometimes struggle to feel welcome on campus – which may become detrimental to their mental, academic, and physical well-being. Non-minority students should help boost their voices on campus by understanding the social movements in which minority students follow and the issues these movements endorse. Here are two examples of very successful programs involving college students:

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter formed following the murder of the black, unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin. On February 26th, 2012, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, called 911 to report Martin's 'suspicious activity' before fatally shooting him. Uncovered evidence suggested that Zimmerman acted because he was wary of Martin's race – and not the actual threat of criminal activity. The Black Lives Matter movement gained further traction after the distressing murder of Michael Brown in 2014. Brown was shot numerous times by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests erupted in Ferguson and across the United States – with followers that represent all intersections of gender, ability, citizenship and experience. "[They] are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise."

The echoes of the Black Lives Matter message left an imprint on the University of Missouri football team and other student organizations, who all called for the Mizzou President Tim Wolfe's resignation. This protest followed inaction of school leaders when dealing with racial issues on campus. The football team, with their coaches' support, refused to play or practice until Wolfe stepped down. The refusal to play games could have cost the university $1 million in cancellation fees. The Missouri football team showed immense courage – risking their scholarships, academic standing, and image on a national level for a controversial but necessary cause.



Cripple Punk

Cripple Punk (or C-Punk for those uncomfortable using the slur) is a movement by the physically disabled, for the physically disabled. It was accidentally created by Tumblr user @Crpl-Pnk, or Tai/Tyler, who posted a grunge-style selfie with a cane and the words 'Cripple Punk' in the caption. The picture went viral, and so did the rejection of stereotypes. Tyler said Cripple Punk is here for the bitter cripple and the un-inspirational cripple –fighting the idea that all cripples must be wonderful people, all the time.

The movement respects all intersections of race, gender, culture, sexual/romantic orientation, size, intersex status, mental illness, neurodivergent, and survivor status. Cripple Punk recognizes that there is no universal disabled experience, and encourages followers to understand unfamiliar experiences. Participating in the activism is not conditional on things like what kind of mobility aids one uses, or how much one can 'function.' One goal of the movement is to fight internalized ableism (feelings of internalized discrimination of disabilities produced by society) They also strive to empower those currently struggling to own their disabled identity through body positivity. This allows the community to choose how they are seen, and to be unapologetically disabled.



It is not unusual as a disabled person to feel isolated from others who share your experiences. The Internet has created a space to seek out others with similar experiences, learn from each other, and motivate each other. This online community is incredibly important, as it is often difficult for disabled people to participate in typical protests. Many cannot march because of the nature of their conditions, or the unfortunate reality that many protests are still inaccessible.

Simple ways to amplify minority voices

Following these movements is perhaps the easiest way to show support, whether it be by attending events, retweeting hashtags, or signing petitions. Rally for a more diverse faculty, multicultural centers, and more accessible counseling or tutoring services for minority students. Elect to take an ethic studies or diversity course to listen and understand other worldviews— this may be the first time you are faced with perspectives different from your own. Seek to understand the history of your institution and its potential shortcomings and rally for change with your peers whenever possible. Make your college a place that everyone would want to attend; your campus diversity starts with encouragement.

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