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Friday, December 28, 2012

Still an Upstairs Downstairs Kind of World

I am an angry little bird today. I don't know if it is because my pride was stung... which it was. Or if it is because the harder I try to hold onto the sweet me, the happy with the little things me and the me that everyone plead "don't ever change" in my yearbook the more I seem to be hardening. Today was one of those days where everything is going smoothly. Things are getting done and you can feel good about all the irons in the fire that didn't turn into heaps of molten nothingness... or Sticks of Flaming Marshmallows to the 3rd Degree. I found a few things to be agitating but you expect that in this line of work. And as with any other time that we are full of people who are looking to have a good time you get a handful of hair raising events. But you deal with it. As an example, parenting other people's children uninvited.

Safety is a huge concern for everyone that I work with. It is a huge concern for me. I have an overactive imagination that can go about 6 life paths from any point in time toward varying ends. Most of them come out okay. But a handful turn out poorly. I am built to obsess on the negative outcomes. It is why I don't ask men out when I see one I like. It is why I do not submit my artwork to major anythings without some assurances from other artists that the venue is far more gracious about my work than I am. It is why I do not plan for glorious things in my life. I can see the gruesome and calculate odds based on my own history to know that it will not go well for me. This is an issue with my therapist because she sees me holding myself back. The thought process dovetails with "Be Prepared." It is what makes Sheldon so delightfully neurotic. And for the most part none of the horrendous outcomes that I imagine are lurking around the next bend in the multiverse happen. So I could lighten up a bit. The therapist says that it serves no good purpose to obsess on bad outcomes.

Except.... there is always an except with me. Except that erring on the side of caution prevents any number of preventable accidents from happening. And thus keeps the Spectre Regret from darkening your door. And that is where I get into all kinds of trouble inside. So many accidents really are preventable if people would just think about what they are doing. And in the case of children for whom there is no such word as "vunerable"; for whom "invincible" and "inconceivable" are a second skin, accidents could be prevented if the parent would think for them. In many people the value of a good time in the moment is the only thing on their minds consequences be damned. Fun is worth any risk including death or dismemberment. I think to Joni Erickson Tada and wonder if the pain of her injury, the recovery and the suicidal depression she experienced was really worth that dive into unknown water. Sure today everything is alright. But what if she hadn't had the spiritual strength to endure her consequences and succeeding in killing herself on one of her dark days? I think about that all the time. I measure myself and know that I do not have the wherewithal to persevere, so there are things that I do not do. Risks I will not take.

And when I see people who constantly cave into the desires of immediate gratification I know that (statistically) they probably can not handle the disastrous ramifications of the choices that they leave entirely to chance. When children are involved I like to intervene. In most case that means gently reminding a kid that running with scissors is a bad idea. In some cases it means giving them the DeNiro "I'm watching you" Glare. And most of the time it goes over fairly well. A parent with too many kids is easily overwhelmed when the brood is over stimulated by their surroundings. I get that. Some parents are just dealing with defiant kids and need a little back up. I get that too. I get it because I remember what it was like to be a kid and think my parents worried for no good reason. Then I almost died choking on a carrot.

The thing that I don't get is what happened today and on other days. I don't get it because every encounter like this has been eerily the same, almost word for word. Today it especially pisses me off because we just had a discussion about how my department is supposed to babysit the kids in the pool even with parents there. The parents need to be more concerned with their safety. It's their kid that is risking life an limb. It is their insurance that will have to pay for aftercare in case of emergency because we clearly state that there is no life guard. It is those parents who will have to sit hospital bedside. It is those parents who, worst case scenario, will have to deal with a funeral home. So they should be the ones who are in control of their kid. And if they need a little help it should be welcomed. I'm not saying that I should have a hero's thanks when I keep a kid from diving into 3 feet of water. I am not saying I deserve a medal for reminding a kid to take the sucker out of their mouth if they are gonna run in the hall. It's the middle of Winter for crying out loud. I know their are days I want to run (even though I suck at it and hate running). But don't run with a sucker or a candy cane in your mouth! And for Pete's sake don't get mad at me for saying something... I'm not questioning your parenting skills. For the most part I never have to correct kids in front of the parent. Just have to remind the kids that there are other adults who can tell them what you are doing. I hated Geraldine for doing that when we were kids. But so what? I did avoid breaking my leg. So hate me for snitching to your parents. But why does a parent have to be shitty about protecting their kid?

With the hierarchy at work a lot of people act like we don't matter because we are "just the housekeeper"s. With the implied caste system in a situation like this some of the guests act like that. But the thing is for as long as I have done this work I am amazed that the percentage of guests who really like to be the Upstairs to our Downstairs is pretty low. It's really only about 6% of the guests who act like we aren't good enough to clean up their poop but let us anyway cause they don't want to do it. Most of them are gracious. Most of them are appreciative. And most of the people above us in the hierarchy are appreciative and gracious... especially the boss. And I guess that is why today bothers me so much as it does.

There was a pool full of people. Kids climbing on equipment, splashing, running, throwing things and in general being obnoxious. Playing with the handicap equipment squiks me every time. All it takes is one kid bobbing on the seat without the restraint to be targeted by a prankster who has the control in their hand to be smooshed, dumped or hung because the kid with the control zigged when he should have zagged. And parents were letting it happen. Yesterday they let it happen. Three moms sit back and let the other mom handle it. That other mom was the toady. The kids ignored her. So the maintenance guy went in there. They bolted without a word from him. Today same thing, different group of kids and parents, and I had to say something because I was the one who saw it. I only got out the words "Hey you guys..." the kids looked to the moms. The moms ignored me and let the leader of the pack make a pronouncement. "Never mind her. She's just the help." So the kids resumed their jungle gym antics. I left.

That is about the fourth time this week that it has happened. Probably the 8th time in the last 3 months. Our executive housekeeper had an experience in which a mom chastised her daughter for apologizing for spilling yogurt all over the floor with "You don't apologize to the help." Which I think to both her and I sounded more like "You don't apologize to the likes of her." Really? I'm just the help? I am just a stranger. And apparently I care more about your kid's health and safety than you do.

I am to the point that I want to throw my hands in the air and quit. Not my job. I love my job. But I want to quit caring. I want to fully embrace Darwinian theory and let Survival of the Fittest weed out the idiocy. You want to dive into a shallow pool and die or be paralyzed? Go ahead. You want to slide down a banister 25 feet from the floor.... go ahead. You want to run with scissor? Fine. You want to taunt a poisonous snake in the zoo? Fine. You want to keep a python in your kids room with a redneck jimmy rigged cage of dubious strength? Go ahead. Too stupid to take your kid out of a stroller before you fold it? Fine.

And I hate me for wanting to give into the cold creeping through my heart just because some people have to play the class warfare card. I mean really... they are kids. They deserve a shot to grow up. They deserve to have someone looking out for them even if that isn't going to be their parents. But I am so sick and tired of people who assume I don't have any value because I am just the help. And after all if I am just the help I must be pretty stupid, lazy, unskilled (add in any standardized insult I forgot) or just plain worthless to be the lowest person on the totem pole to be just the help. The whole "You're not good enough to________________ because I have money status or prestige." mentality is really wearing thin on me. And the degree to which I feel hurt due to the compound interest of hearing how I was never good enough, smart enough, fast enough or whatever enough as a kid. That part is on me. But still... it stings. Ignore me if you don't want to hear what I have to say. Ignore me if you think that the risk of injury is worth the fun that you are having. But don't insult me like that.

The thing that really sucks about that is that you can't do anything about it. The general manager can't have a talk with people about being rude to the help. And I wouldn't expect him to. It isn't done. And since the only damage was done to my esteem there is nothing illegal in the behavior and I'll just have to get over it. But it does make me want to find something else to do. Something that won't involved dealing with children, their parents and people who have that look... that Jersey Shore/Real Housewives "Better than all of you" look. Racial profiling might be wrong. But I can profile the hell out of people based on facial expressions and the haughty angle of an overly plucked, painted and primped eyebrow. But it makes me stabby. Every day I feel more and more like the hurt little kid that I was in high school that went into self protection mode by keeping everyone and everything at bay. But letting the public face wear a callous. The trouble is that callous won't be only skin deep.

I can feel a hardness that has crept from my skin into muscle and bone and is working its way through my blood into my soul. I can tell because when I start think that I would like to go out and meet people I develop a very bad case of Tourette's in my head and find all kinds of reasons to wish that people would find the end they deserve instead of the grace that they are given. People like that lady today make me wish, with all sincerity, that the world had ended on the 22nd as prophesied. I am scared because right now I really feel like I could walk into the pool, see something dangerous and sit back and let it happen.... after going to get some popcorn for the show. And I am scared because I don't know it I feel that way just for right now because me feelings were so hurt or if I will feel this way forever.

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