1 of 3 about Stuff I Won’t Talk about
March 1, 2008
This is another message to be chewed and swallowed. This is 1 of 3 in today’s series of posts.
One of my favorite volunteers is Mary from Peru. (I have written about her before.) Her name is ‘Mary’ instead of ‘Maria’ because her Peruvian father likes American movies. When she meets Americans, they are very confused. When she meets other Hispanics, they are very confused. In either case, she insists that people call her ‘Mary’ with patient and polite but firm good humor.
As a high school student in Peru, she was told by a counselor she should be an accountant as that was a suitable job for a woman with math ability. She decided she wanted to be an engineer instead. She came to the United States and cleaned bedpans at an extended care home at night to pay for living while she put herself through graduate school to get an advanced engineering degree.
Yesterday, I had a day of stress. Instead of eating lunch, I met with the president of the union who was very sympathetic and supportive, but said to me, You will have to submit to everything and agree to everything on Monday to save your job.
I said, I know that. It’s easier to say that then do that, however. On Monday I will meet with the president and the chief negotiator before my meeting with my supervisors.
After that unsatisfactory conversation, I went to another location to meet with Mary and a student who asked for individual help. The student, born in America, is also named Mary.
I met with Peruvian Mary and American Mary to help set it up the tutoring session.
I was told, by one of the better people (at one of the better locations), Please don’t do this again. If you set up individual tutoring sessions here, they are too difficult to manage. I was very polite. I said I wouldn’t set up any more tutoring sessions at that location.
I don’t want to get into any more trouble.
I said to Mary and the student, “The bad news is that we can’t meet like this any more.”
The student who had requested individual help said she understood but was very disappointed. Mary who had asked for students who speak Spanish because she is a little uneasy about teaching in English (though her English is very good with a bit of an accent) but has never gotten any Spanish-speaking students said she understood. Even though I have been asked on numerous occasions to recruit teachers who speak Spanish I figured I better say I understand. Pointing contradictions such as this out is one of the reasons I get into trouble.
They started working together. At first, I was too helpful. I left so I could eat my lunch (it was now several hours late for my lunch because of the earlier commotion) and so they could work without my being in their way.
When I came back, they were doing fine. I moved away and observed quietly from a distance. There were several individual library patrons using computers on their own. One was a very respectable-looking woman, perhaps in her fifties. She looked up from her computer and started talking loudly, something about President George Bush and about sex in our country. She was not very coherent. It was not clear whether she was saying that there was not enough sex in our country and it was George Bush’s fault or that there was too much sex and pornography in our country and that was George Bush’s fault. I think it was the latter, though I suppose a serious argument could be made for either point of view. Public libraries attract a lot of people such as this.
Everyone pretended to ignore her, except another patron, who asked, “Are you talking to me?”
She said, “I am talking to everybody. But I suppose none of you care if we live in an oppressed country.”
A librarian came over and politely asked her not to make so much noise.
The patron said, “I am leaving in a few minutes, anyway. I suppose you (addressing everybody nearby) don’t care anyway if we live in a very oppressed country.”
I would interpret the expression on everyone’s face as meaning, You are probably correct; however, I feel even more oppressed having to listen to you.