Snubbing snubbers

One can like everyone one meets for a few seconds (or even minutes) but one can only like a few for always: true friends can be counted just using the fingers of one hand. That’s a simple fact of social life and applies particularly well in small mountain populations like the comune of Bagni di Lucca, where one is always bumping into people one knows from some part or other. I read somewhere that undergraduates spend their first year at university making friends and their second year trying to forget most of them! Something like that happens here and its main evidence is seen in an action known as snubbing. The word snubbing can mean a type of heavy well intervention performed on oil and gas wells involving running a pipe string using a hydraulic workover rig. But I’m not referring to that technical meaning here! Rather, I’m defining snubbing as a way to pretend that a former friend is not so any more.

Snubbing, of course, occurs throughout the world. At school I remember unfortunate pupils being sent “to Coventry” by others. The phrase comes from the fact that the city of Coventry in the United Kingdom had one of the strictest monasteries, where misbehaving monks were sent and punished by being given a vow of silence. Snubbing can take various forms. In its mildest way one can be greeted by a polite, but curt, “hello” which makes it known that no further communication is necessary. In its severest form it can lead to complete silence and avoidance. If snubbing degenerates even further it can direct itself to actual violence, but then it becomes assault.

There’s hardly anybody I know that hasn’t been subject to this hurtful and cowardly way of (not) conducting human relations – hurtful, because it clearly impinges on one’s own sensitivity and hurts one’s feelings, and cowardly because the person inflicting it has not the courage or decency to say why they are indulging in this kind of ridiculous behaviour.

Examples I draw are: the mother who, collecting her children from school, gets ignored by the other mums (sometimes even her children get ignored by them), the person who greets all those seated at a dinner table individually and ignores one of them blatantly, the person who when seeing another walking towards them on the pavement immediately stops and crosses the road to be on the other side. Another example is coming across a familiar group of people seated at a table in a bar and noticing on one’s greeting that one of them (the snubber) gets up and silently departs.

It’s OK if one doesn’t really want to be friends with the person who is doing the snubbing – it can be an easy way out of an embarrassing situation. But it clearly is not OK if the snubber is someone who was a friend, who received hospitality, commensality, advice or help and who one remembers as having passed some pleasant times together.

The stupidest snubber is the person who hasn’t properly met and spent at least some time in one’s company. Gossip can become an alarming thing, and can develop into rumour and, what is worse, slander. This type of snubber has an essentially weak personality and will believe blather about someone from anyone who spouts it out. Unlike Shakespeare’s “Othello”, he or she will be unable to understand the axiom “speak of me as I am”. Rather, they will speak of someone as others convince them to speak.

In the play we all know what end awaits Iago, a truly evil slanderer and, what is worse, a liar whose lies can, and do, kill. There is no-one worse than a liar, in my opinion for no-one can potentially do more damage in society. Indeed, lying and snubbing go together, as the snubber not only believes lies about the people he or she snubs but is also lying against their own better selves by pretending – thus preparing the ground for a personality breakdown.

What to do about snubbing? The best way out is to ignore it all. The snubber is often out to hurt, at least emotionally, so one must make out that their action is like water off a duck’s back, if you are the duck! I realize it’s often very difficult to do this and one would like to say (or even scream) a word (or two) to the offending party. But the person suffering is ultimately the snubber because they have destroyed a part of their emotional response (perhaps even through those green-eyed monsters – jealousy and envy) and are, therefore, to be pitied rather than to get worked up about. If anyone’s read “Pride and Prejudice” then they’ll know what I mean; Jane Austen was perhaps the most observant and creative person to deal with this silly and unnecessary behavioural trait and she knew what she was writing about first-hand!

PS If you didn’t know what a snubbing unit looks like here’s a picture of one – at least it’s more productive (and colourful) than the (in)human variety…

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2 thoughts on “Snubbing snubbers

  1. Dear Francis it is very brave of you to express your feelings about the situation in Longoio and environs in this way but it scares me to think that those very snubbers could in fact have access to this blog and possibly even create more trouble and problems in our direction in the same way as the wife of the …… from whose sons we bought the house did she acted in a way strangely in my view then but as your wife I can now associate myself perfectly well with the whys and wherefores the husband as you do enjoyed the area with his bees and making honey but the wife had had enough of the insults and attacks from people as for example the harming of their olive trees and so it goes on spite action as you put it for envy and jealousy this is exactly what we too have encountered and I have taken and will continue to take avoidance action as I too need to have the sense of life preservation as I am unwell I have a raft of ailments and do not wish to be in an area and amongst people firstly that I do not even know are there and secondly not to have any immediate neighbours in case of need the idea worries me unduly I can assure that these are impossible decisions as ….. has made as …….. has made as others would wish to be able to make remember that it is not you that I am running away from but the situation caused by unknowns in fact we are really lucky to tell the tale of the wheel that dropped off our car that left me with no steering luckily suddenly came to a halt without careering into the fast oncoming traffic. Also we have to remember the wickedness of those 3 poems sent to us anonymously that also ……. received similar insults in writing seemingly from the same hand. These are dreadful situations the idea that we are being observed scrutinised in this manner upsets me unduly despite the fact that we do get on with our lives together in the best way we can all this is unfair and creates stress and tension in our relationship. Remember it is stated that if 3 people state the same view that it is the TRUTH or the word of GOD. Let us hope that these unknown people will chose other people to VICTIMISE as that is really what they are doing SNUBBING is too KIND a thought the best idea would be of course that they realised the error of their ways and ceased acting in this way but it seems to me that they are total outsiders living on the margins of society have always behaved in this way and will always do. It seems most sad as your whole departure from the UK with great enthusiasm has dampened somewhat my expectation of what I was hoping for our retirement together however we are doing an admirable job in trying to overcome these adversities and as the Bible states we can offer the other cheek! These are certainly not self-respecting people as such people would in no way act thus I mean we have lived in other areas of Italy and have never encountered such behaviour I can say that this has also affected me psychologically and I certainly do not need to harbour feelings of anger stress or be upset by such situations I have my own preoccupations with Nature the world that is falling apart economies agriculture religion morals I mean a suggestion was made that 13 should be the new age of consent in the UK that is dreadful! We are living in very strange awkward times I do not know where we are heading from here I only know that we have reverted back 3 million years in carbon monoxide levels and I have already stated this to you that in Italy if they are not careful they will end up like Easter Island as they do not seem to have control over tree chopping they do not replace trees as in the UK! Francis we are lucky as you said that we have survived thus far and I sincerely hope that we will in the future! Love and Light Alexandra

  2. Pingback: Rumour’s Tongues | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and beyond)

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