Automatic traslation from the original story in Spanish. Not checked manually

The alarm clock rings and I open my eyes. The first thought that comes to my mind is that today I am forced to go out.

I feel how unrest and anger begin to take root in my being. Then I notice cramps in my stomach. I try to calm down, but I can’t. It’s clear: I hate them.

I have breakfast and make the most of my time before leaving, but finally I have to do it. I don’t take the elevator and quickly go down the steps. It was done later than expected. There are only ten streets, but I have to do them on foot, because there is no good communication.

I open the staircase door and go out onto the street. The sidewalk is unusually quiet, but I’m convinced that’s anecdotal. I’m sure that when I walk a little, the usual things will start to happen…

I begin to go down Padilla Street, as always on the sidewalk on my right-hand side and shortly before crossing Travesera de Gracia, the first barrier appears… It was to be expected! Always the same! Four people, one next to the other, walk slowly, occupying the entire width of the sidewalk.

When I get behind them, I clear my throat, in the vain hope that they will allow me to pass. One of these people looks askance. He doesn’t say anything and continues walking with the other three calmly… I feel the hatred growing inside me. I feel like slapping them, but I restrain myself and step off the sidewalk so I can pass them.


When I have done so, I turn to look at them, trying to make them notice that they have prevented me from walking correctly on the sidewalk. To my astonishment, the one who had looked sideways makes a reproachful face that makes it clear to me, even without having said it, that he considers me to be a real idiot.

I look around trying to find a stick… but again I hold back and continue moving forward, while I dodge bicycles and scooters that circulate on the sidewalk despite being prohibited…

I have two streets left to reach a new obstacle: the terrace of a bar on the sidewalk… A terrace that reduces the 5 meters that the sidewalk has to 2.5 m.

Before getting there, I know with certainty that even if the entire sidewalk is empty, it will be there, precisely there, where a couple of idiots will be occupying the little space left by the terrace, to expand on a meaningless speech, while their packages, suitcases, cars or anything else that helps to hinder the passage, they rest peacefully enjoying the greatest possible space.

I get there and how could it be otherwise, I find the scene that I have been thinking about for two blocks. This time I can no longer control myself and I blurt out to them: —Don’t you realize that you are getting in the way? Are you aware that you have stopped right in the narrowest place? Do they not know that the best place to stand without disturbing is the space between two of the trees that adorn the sidewalks of Ensanche?

In response I get a kind of scream saying: “But, you thought you were a huge idiot!” You have plenty of space! He tells me, pointing to the scant span and a half that remains between the packages strategically placed to annoy and the wall.

I swear to God that it has cost me an enormous effort not to wring his neck… I have managed to avoid it by thinking that the psychologist told me that I have a social phobia and that since I am not progressing correctly with the therapy that I should visit the psychiatrist so that he can give me something or another drug.

With this, according to his opinion, I will be able to alleviate my disproportionate reactions and as if that is where I am heading, I have decided to stop the impulse and go through the reduced space that they have so “gently” pointed out to me. Of course, “unintentionally,” I tripped over one of the suitcases that, with a crash, fell gracefully.

As I continued advancing, I could still hear the owner of it saying to the other: —but have you seen what this son of a bitch… has done?

I have ignored the insult and now decide to take my steps through a much less crowded passage. At least for a small stretch I will enjoy space and peace…

Just before entering it, a van has also chosen this path… I continue walking and to my astonishment, the van stops and a man of a certain age gets out and opens the rear doors. He begins to take out packages that he deposits on the sidewalk. “My” sidewalk, the one on my right hand.

I think I won’t be able to stop my murderous urges and that this poor bastard will have done his last job. Red with anger I head towards him with my heart beating wildly and at an accelerated pace.

Just when I am two meters away from attacking him, the man realizes that someone is approaching and before even looking at me he says: “Excuse me!” I didn’t realize you were coming! Right now, I take out the packages.

Then I surprise myself, when with a smile on my lips, I politely say: Don’t worry. I can pass perfectly on the other sidewalk.

The man answers me: —Accept my apologies. Thank you very much for his kindness.

—You’re welcome, good man. —Right at this moment I realize that the social phobia thing is real bullshit. I don’t have a social phobia. I simply resent rudeness, incivility, self-centeredness, and evil. People who only care about their navel and who, on top of that, strictly follow the “maintain it and don’t amend it” thing. Also I decide that I am not going to see the psychiatrist since no matter how many medications he gives me, he will not put an end to the stupidity of the vast majority…

I can’t help but think about how it got here. I realize that since the 1973 curriculum, the subjects that help cultivate thinking, the subjects that teach behaviour and that provide values, have been increasingly eliminated.

There are no more teachers who, in addition to being teachers, were educators. There are no more parents who help shape the character of their children and who, on top of not doing so, do not have time to dedicate to them and take them to their grandparents.

The values have been ignored. Understanding, effort, and performing adequately in whatever needs to be done have been lost. In return, excessive pretensions, envy, bad faith, and criticism for the sake of it have been encouraged. And above all the rudeness…

I don’t know if we will have time to correct it, because in a globalized world like the one we live in, there is no decline of empires that give way to new others… All those who direct us, wherever they are from, are the same dogs with different collars…

They worry about filling their mouths with climate change, but they continue to strive to ensure that the people do not have the necessary training that allows them to think and be critical… The less you think and the less critical you are, the less problems they will have to continue living off tale…

I am completely sure that mine is not social phobia. I simply feel powerless to change society…

Well, I’m done now. I’ll stop giving you the stick… By the way, enjoy avoiding the people who excessively occupy the sidewalks.

Phobia – Short stories series – Copyright ©Montserrat Valls and Juan Genovés

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