its not safe to wear a yes badge in Glasgow tonight, someone has been stabbed and there are literal fascists flooding our streets. the English defence league and orange order are in George square giving nazi salutes and burning Scottish flags. this is what it’s come to a day after the vote, a day after a no vote happening. stay safe all of you.
worst move ever
There are only a few things that require more trust than letting people move your house. Sex and surgery, perhaps. You are letting people take your life in their hands, at only slightly more an abstract than the literal. If they decided to betray you, they could do so much damage. They could destroy or steal your stuff - and not just the accumulation of media and junk that constitutes the bulk of the actual matter - but the important things and the paperwork. Your life.
I moved house yesterday.
I had packed at the weekend (mostly the media) but not everything, because I had booked packing and moving services. I went over to London after work, to spend a last night there. I woke up, I ate my breakfast bacon sandwich, and packed a bit more, listening to First Aid Kit (oh, the feels).
The movers turned up. They were friendly apart from the bit where they were consistently misgendering me.
Now, I get that a lot. I’m used to it. Especially when I’m in jeans and t-shirt and (horrifically) hadn’t even bothered shaving that morning. Half of you are probably nodding right now, and half of you are being incredulous and are about to flatter me, which is very kind of you but not actually true but just because I reply saying “no, look at my lived experience”, doesn’t mean I want you to stop, because it is your acceptance that keeps things worthwhile despite the shiftiness. I mean. I actually wrote a comic about this phenomenon (including the third party reaction), which I’ve just decided to post as the bitstrips mockup. The worst bit is, as always, the bit of me that hates myself for caring. I am not a better person for passing better. It’s an uncomfortable compliment to receive: what is effectively “oh, you certainly lucked out at not getting a particularly case of testosterone poisoning.”
I get it a lot. I have different coping strategies. Sometimes I will politely correct people. Sometimes I will throw a strop. And sometimes I will pretend it isn’t happening. That’s what I did this time. I don’t want to escalate things, not when they have all my stuff, my life, in the back of their van. It was just just possible that they had made an honest mistake. And even if they hadn’t, what could I do? They had all the leverage. My assessment of them was not improved by the casual racism during the drive. They were content to move my stuff still, though, so I played along, wanting this to be over as soon as possible.
As we pulled into the storage place on Botley Road, one of them called me by the wrong name. ”Is this the right place, Isabel… Annabel?” I continue to ignore this. ”This is the right place.” I say, a bit later. It is then obvious that he realises that I am a woman (not that he’d put it like that), but has been misgendering me because I am trans.
I pretend it never happened.
During the unloading one of them, when we’re the driver, acknowledges he’d got the wrong name for me (I think his colleague had told him), and said “Abigail. What name must you have been born with to be called Abigail?” I told him this was quite rude. Because I’m still not interested in escalating. They are still holding my life in their van.
I tell him that it was bad enough that he had been calling me “he” all day, but that was just not on. He tells me he sees things as they really are, not as people want them to be. He then offers several suggestions as to what my birth name was. ”Andrew? Alex? Adam? I bet it was Andy, wasn’t it.”
What the actual fuck.
Now, just to clarify. This is one question you should not fucking ask. Some of you know. I can’t help that. You never call me it, you do not tell anyone who doesn’t know, you don’ me even mention it. There is about one situation where it would be OK to use it, which is telling other people who knew me before but hadn’t got the news yet. If you violate this I will hate you forever, and I will fuck you over so hard if I am ever in a position to do so.
This is not just clueless insensitivity. He was probing me, trying to provoke me. He was looking for me to react, I think. If he’d hit a name that made me flinch, I’m sure he’d have started calling me that.
In any other situation I would have walked away, but they still had a lot of my stuff in my fan. I ignore him, basically. But any last vestiges of safety and trust has vanished. Any ability to pretend that things were tolerable had gone.
We go to my house to drop off the things I am taking there. We unload.
They want the money in cash, right then. I wasn’t expecting that. In retrospect I should have asked about payment. I get as much as I can from the machine. They say they might take part cash part cheque. I honestly can’t find my chequebook. I offer to make a direct bank transfer immediately. I can do that. He makes a show of calling his boss. While he’s waiting for the boss to call him back, he tries to get me to take their card. Like I’m going to fucking use them again. Boss calls back. I’m told that it’s not possible. Driver tells me he’s not giving me any slack, because I was difficult earlier. I tell him that given that he is lucky I’m offering any payment at all. He repeats: It has to be cash, now, one way or another. Normally I would offer to hock something to them until tomorrow. But no, just no.
At this point I run to my house, lock the door, and call the police. My landline is dead, which increases my panic, and it takes several tries to get through on my mobile.
They start banging on the door, demanding their money. They claim they are going to call the police and have me arrested for stealing (which I know is nonsense, the debt is a civil matter, but they might lie.). And my police dispatcher confirms that there’s nothing else showing. They are lying.
Eventually a police officer comes round. Actually pretty quickly, I’d phoned 999 at 1610, and he arrived at 1657. I tell him what happened, he makes sure I am safe, and he gives me some advice what to do in future. (I am to call 999 again I feel threatened by them.). Nothing immediate to be done, though.
I start posting to social networking. My housemate comes round, and makes everything a bit better.
Then the boss man comes round.
My housemate answers the door. It seems he’s not there to demand money but wants to talk about what happened.
He had been told a version where I had been refusing to pay because of one of them calling me “mate”. Which… Obviously he knows he did a wrong thing because otherwise he wouldn’t lie about it. He hadn’t been told they had threatened to call the police on me, he hadn’t been told I’d done the same. He is profusely apologetic, basically asks me to avoid naming them on social media, and says he will get back to me on Monday after he’s had a chance to talk to the driver.
That’s about it.
We’ve moved the furniture to its final positions, mostly. Liz came round. I slept reasonably well. The kicker is, we didn’t even finish the move. I hadn’t disassembled the big furniture and the van was full. I’m going to have to do it again. :-(
Abigail has since tweeted that the company in question is manandvanoxford.co.uk, that the manager recorded her conversation with him without her consent, and that they are threatening her with bailliffs if she doesn’t pay the full amount for their transphobic abuse of her. Please make sure that if you’re ever in the Oxford area and moving you avoid these people.