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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

Today, the other KG teachers, assistants, and cleaning staff talked to me as if I were five.  On the other hand, one of my favorite students gave me a sticker.  Why doesn’t that make me feel better?  Oh right, because I’m NOT five…

Being talked down to is a not uncommon problem for me, and, when it happens, I get a very short fuse very quickly. My current supervisor, bless her soul from top to bottom, does not do this, and that is one of the few things that keeps me going in a job that I am neither naturally equipped nor trained for.

I understand that very few people in Egypt extend very much of what I consider respect to anyone. Hissing and snapping fingers at people is completely normal. Personal space is non-existant. Women on the metro tug my shirt tails down or bodily move me so they can talk to their friends across the aisle. However, taking that into account doesn’t make me feel any better when my two fellow KG teachers, who are much older than I am and have been on this same field trip many times, proceed to not tell me anything about what’s going on, then talk to me as if I’m one of the students when I *gasp* don’t know what’s going on.

Here’s the thing about working with little kids: after awhile, you start thinking about other adults as children and it’s difficult not to use your “mommy” tone when you’re upset at someone. The “mommy” tone is quite effective with small children and the opposite of effective with anyone older than that. Trying to use your voice or body language to elevate yourself to the position of sole, authoritative adult when that is not already the case will only further annoy or anger the person you are talking to. Unless you have some kind of real leverage on this person, the whole situation will likely blow up in your face.

Also, a slightly weird factor in the lack of respect I get from older women in particular (in lots of instances, not just from the previously mentioned co-workers) is that I so often sense that it’s partly or mostly based in a resentment of me just for being younger than them. This is deeply annoying to me for two reasons. The first is that it’s always annoying when someone dislikes you based on nothing you’ve actually done, and the second is that all I really have going for me as a younger woman is my nubility. I don’t think any older woman who sits around resenting me can possibly understand how fast I would trade that asset in for that one little thing they’re determined to punish me by denying: respect.


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