I am short.
I am short in a world that is getting taller and taller, as each successive generation passes. Everyone around me is, for the most part, taller than I am. I am always half-running and looking up at tall people when I walk with them that I can’t see where I’m placing my next step. This sometimes causes me to trip, or stub my toe.
Or step on dog poop.
There are no words to describe the suckiness of being short. Oh, wait a minute. Yes there are.
Why do car manufacturers even bother to put visors into cars? They mostly do diddly squat for me because they don’t reach far enough down to shade my face.
I usually end up either shading my eyes with one hand and steering with the other, or squint through the glare and drive with a perpetual scowl as I try not to steer into oncoming traffic.
Sunglasses are a short girl’s best friend in this case, but shopping for glasses is an0ther adventure in itself that makes me cringe because I am short.
If you have ever tried to buy sunglasses at any random kiosk or revolving shelf, you will understand my frustration.
The sunglasses kiosks place their mirrors way up at the top of the spinning racks, effectively making them useless to me. If I’m lucky, I get to see the top of my head. Usually though, I see nothing at all.
This is similar to all other visual conundrums of daily life, ones that most people don’t even think about. There are the useless peep holes that have been cut through doors and placed at eye level for the safety and protection of the very tall guys who obviously need that protection. Even on tippy toes, I can’t get my eye at proper height to see through them, so I end up just yelling “Who is it?” through the door–like an idiot.
And then there are public cameras that take a picture of half my face (the top half) to be placed on a visitor pass so people can see what the top of my head looks like. When I ask for a retake, the security people sigh and hem and haw, and fumble with the camera. And then they shrug their shoulders, telling me there is nothing they can do because the camera is fixed at tall-people height.
Such is the life of a short girl in public areas where the common denominator, obligatory mirror or artwork is always a a few inches above my line of sight, but it doesn’t get that much better in the privacy of my own space.
Short Girls in Cars
Let’s face it. Cars are made for tall people. Trucks too. I hate those tall trucks and SUVs where I have to clamber onto the seats because the floor of the vehicle is at the height of my belly button. This is why I don’t drive a truck. My small car of choice is the Miata.
The Miata is perfect for me, but even then, I have to do quite a bit of adjustment to fit myself into the space allotted for normal-sized tall humans. I have to push my seat forward, very close to the steering wheel, and then bring the seat upwards. I do this for three reasons.
- So my short legs can reach the pedal.
- So my short arms can reach the steering wheel
- So I can see over the dashboard and steering wheel
Which brings me to yet another problem:
Honestly, do they even use short female crash test dummies when they design these stupid airbags that we’re stuck with? Did you know it’s illegal to drive without an airbag? I hear that airbags save lives, but only if those lives are tall folks. This means that even if the impact of an auto accident didn’t kill me, my exploding bag will.
Speaking of cars
My seatbelt always grabs me at the neck and chokes me if I turn the wrong way. This is because I don’t fit properly in the seat because I’m too damn short, causing the seat belt to ride too high on my body.
I can’t use a pillow to sit on to raise me up higher on the seat because then my feet can’t reach the pedal.
When I look straight ahead, my eyes barely clear the top of the steering wheel. Immediately below that is the dashboard.
It’s funny, but for the longest time, I didn’t even know that people of decent height can actually see the hoods of their cars.
I’m lucky if I can even see the road in front of me. I can’t see the car hood, but I’m fairly confident that it’s still there. We’re not talking quantum physics here. We’re talking about the hood of a car.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my car, despite its shortcomings because the alternative–public transportation–is even worse.
They make these ring things really high up in the buses. I can reach them, yes, but tapping at them with the tips of my fingers don’t count. If I can’t curl my fingers up over the ring, then it’s useless to me.
This means I have to rely on random strangers to help me. It’s embarrassing, and why I don’t take the bus.
More public transportation
This is yet another public transportation issue. I can reach up to open the hatch, but I can’t reach high enough to shove my bag in.
I also can’t shut the hatch door because I can’t reach high enough to push upwards with the flat of my palms.
So again, I have to rely on random strangers to help me.
The overhead baggage hatch causes me embarrassment, coming and going. To avoid being such a bother, I travel very light. I now bring only a backpack that’s small enough to shove under the seat in front of me.
I try not to buy anything on the top shelves, but sometimes, I don’t have a choice. That’s because grocery store shelves, like everything else in this world, is made for the average tall person.
This means I can either climb up using the lower shelves OR look around for a tall person to help me reach something.
I usually end up looking for a tall person to assist me, mostly because I do not want to tip over an entire set of shelves onto the aisle, which would be far more embarrassing than asking for help.
Speaking of tall people
I am the perfect height to be an armrest for tall people. They also take a pernicious delight in hiding things out of my reach, onto top shelves, or holding things above my reach.
They also walk much faster than I do, so when we are walking side by side, I either run every other step to keep up, or lag behind and just walk at my own pace.
I just about cracked up when I saw this picture. It really does illustrate quite elegantly, how sucky it is to be short and flailing about in the pool (I can’t swim), while the long limbed and athletic graceful swans around me move through the waters with ease.
<= This is me in a pool. At the shallow end.
However, this picture is misleading for one very important reason. At the 5′ mark, my nose and most of my eyes are underwater. The only thing showing would be the top of my head.
You can usually find me around the four-and-a-half foot mark, trying to keep my nose above the water line.
By now, you’re probably wondering why I, the ever-optimistic, ever-joyful Taobabe, am on a rant about being short. This is SO not my style. I generally tend to be thankful for being alive most every day. I’m thankful to be able to fill my lungs, no matter how short they are, with the fresh air of khí, and I don’t dwell on my lack of anything, least of all, altitude.
All Is Not Bad
Of course, all is not bad. This is the Taoist world. There is always the yin to go with the yang. How much of The Way had I managed to absorb after all these years if I went about my daily life grumbling about being short?
When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other ~ Lao Tzu
There are some advantages to being short.
- For starters, I don’t need extra leg room on a plane. This means I sit with relative comfort, even in the tightest of spaces. The only issue I have with flying economy is that others who are larger tend to spill themselves into my space. I know they can’t help that they have long limbs, so I sympathize and give them as much room as I am able to.We are comrades experiencing a very claustrophobic and unpleasant situation. We commiserate and help each other out, rather than make this miserable situation worse by snarling and fighting each other.
- My short girl clothes don’t take up much room so I can pack everything I need into a small backpack when I travel, eliminating the need to bother tall strangers to help me with overhead bins and such. Even on long trips (3 or 4 weeks abroad), I take nothing that I can’t bring on the plane with me and slide under the seat in front of me. This saves me on extra time having to wait at the luggage claim for my baggage to emerge from the moving counter.
- I fit into very small cars (like my Miata) with ease, saving me a ton of dough on gas. This means I don’t have to bother tall strangers on buses. Looking cool in my small car is just a side effect of being short.
- There are very few guys shorter than me. Even though I don’t have a height requirement for men (ie. they have to be a few inches taller than me) most if not all men end up being taller than me any way.
This means they aren’t initially threatened by me because I don’t take up much vertical space. Of course, this changes somewhat after prolonged conversations about all things interesting, at which point, height becomes irrelevant and mental acuity + personality come to the forefront.
- In any case, since I am Asian…
Thank you so much for posting this, TB. As a short taijiguy, so much of this applies, with the extra insult of the ‘macho effect,’ which I’m fairly sure I needn’t ‘splain to you. Post on, TB.
I’ve been wondering how tall you are. I bet you are adorable in person.
I’m short too Taobabe > <. People always think I'm younger than I really am haha
What Stephen said. Also, shorties are awesome to cuddle.
You look young because of amazing Asian genes. I’ve seen old looking short people too. (High five Asian sista!)
Ron & Stephen
I completely sympathize. We are in same boat.