My first encounter with a member of the Abbaga family occurred many years ago when I was a much younger "old guy" and a customer in one of our local supermarkets.
Making that first acquaintance was shocking to say the least. There I was, by chance, meeting a surly, short-tempered family member. That would lead to a string of similar meetings and my own reaction moved me to read the reactions of the other strangers to this family's collective character.
And that... resulted in launching me on an investigative journey that continues even today.
The infancy of my surveillance was an eye-opener for me as I had no idea how widespread the awareness of the kindred actually was. With each observation and subsequent interview, the reputation of the family’s untoward behavior became more pronounced.
Everyone seemed smote, and then left, with similarly hard impressions regarding the Abbagas, even in dealing with the nicest of its members.
As the weeks turned to months not only did my probings lead me to uncover whole segments of society who were genuinely offended, but still, to this day I discover vast groups of populace who avoid the family by the mere hearing of their reputation.
It was this last discovery that was, for me most astonishing.
To my way of thinking, it is one thing to avoid something because of a bad experience, and quite another to shun something because of word of mouth. "I heard that Steve’s situation went like this." or "Did you hear what happened to Suzie when she ran into an Abbaga?" Or worse... "I heard of this guy (no name?) who..."
The revelations of gross bigotry expanded with time.
More and more evidence surfaced that the majority of those who spoke unkindly of the Abbagas, had never even made personal contact!
I was appalled, and then quite resolved to analyze the motivations of those carrying the tales of bad reputation, as though they had a personal encounter, delivering their vexation and venom with more fervor than those who actually had an unhappy experience.
But now I had mentally turned the corner. I was determined to find all the facts with an open mind, not to somehow sanction this obvious bigotry but to understand it and thereby foster healing on both sides.
I looked into the Abbaga’s familial tree, searching out what might be the genesis of the trouble and found that the seed of their maligned reputation may have begun long ago with the family’s patriarch Rudolph, the first to hold the Abbaga name.
As I continued delving, I harvested a greater, unexpected, and much more hopeful approach to the distaste from both sides. After hours of research, I found that a planned encounter with an Abbaga, need not be as harsh as one might conceive at first go.
An otherwise uncomfortable circumstance might be moderated with proper preparations, I was near beside myself with good humor.
Meetings with any member of the Abbagas can be... as I can now certainly testify, an experience that is warm and nourishing for the soul.
While a chance encounter with one of the family can be... well, difficult, it truly does not have to go the way of the stereotypical.
My advice… keep a laundry list of preparations. A “recipe” if you will, for your own behavior and you are likely to be pleasantly surprised with the end result.
I have concluded that much of the "bad rap" the family receives is mostly due to what transpired with the patriarch.
What began as Rudolph soon became shortened, as is usual, to Rudy then shortened further to a more mean, generic referrence. And as fate would have it, through the weaving of time and tale bearing, the entire family became known by those prejudices that were empowered by their "nickname".
In my opinion, it was that abbreviation, that "nickname", that was the greater cause for the increasing malice against them, for now they are simply referred to, far and wide, especially in supermarkets, as the Rude Abbagas.