Random Blog A Musing Farf

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

MISS MANNERS WOULD BE PROUD OF ME...SORT OF.

Mother had a dream the other night that she was yelling at George Bush and telling him to stop the war already. Go Mom. She is much braver than me, at least in her dreams.

I have no problem yelling at complete strangers and my friends are usually quick to realize when they have made me angry, but I have a really hard time in casual social situations speaking up in front of people. Take this weekend for example. On Saturday afternoon, Husband and I were walking down our block to pick up Tiki from Doggie Day Care, when I saw this young woman throw a plastic cup in the flowerbed. She kept walking so I began to loudly exclaim, “What kind of person litters in a flower bed?” Then I called after her, “I think you walked passed a trash can and dropped your cup. What kind of person are you? Get back here!” I was totally ignored and the only person I succeeded in shaming was Husband, who (and likely not for the first time that day) wondered why I was crazy. But I was really mad. In Manhattan, your block is like a front yard and I hate litter.

In contrast though was an event slightly earlier in the day. Suzanne and I through a baby shower for Ex-Pat, who happened to be pregnant while back in NY for a visit. The even was a success and even Husband, who usually hates such things, admitted that it was fun. I thought it was enjoyable, except for the “Curious Incident of the Anti-Union Cousin.” I am a Union supporter. I work for Unions, believe in them and, as Husband will attest, will go out of my way and change even the coolest of plans if I see a picket line. I simply won’t cross them for any reason. (See where I get the nickname Pinko?) So, I imagine my surprise when I was washing dishes, to hear the following come from the living room, “So that is why anyone who supports unions is really out for themselves and trying to undermine the economy…” I wanted to say something, but did not want to start a runkus and gave Anti-Union Cousin the benefit of the doubt – maybe she did not know the long held beliefs of her host.

Nope. I heard Suzanne tell Anti-Union Cousin what I did for a living, and that just seemed to make her tirade continue at a louder decibel. I wanted to say something. I wanted to yell at her that if she spent just one second in her employee’s shoes, she may change her mind, but I did not. It’s a class thing. I do not walk into the homes of people who are anti-choice and lecture them, nor do I expect return treatment. And as a hostess, my role is to make everyone comfortable. And the likelihood of ever again seeing a Mid-Atlantic based cousin of a friend who lives in England is pretty much nil. So I said nothing and seethed. Now I think I wimped out.

So, here goes: Hotel jobs are one of the few industries in which uneducated and immigrant workers can start off in abject poverty and still have a solid chance of rising into middle class. Because of the power and work of unions, people in the Hotel Industry have access to health insurance and scholarship programs than enable them to send their children to college. Hotel workers are often uneducated and non-proficient in English and it is very easy for unscrupulous bosses to take advantage of the fact that these workers will not report dangerous or underpaid working conditions to the appropriate authorities. Anti-Union Cousin is lucky that she grew up in a home that offered her access to education and high paying jobs, but it is unfortunate that the same background that gave her so many advantages could not produce in her some kind of compassion for people who did not have the same head start.

It is also too bad that she was not taught basic manners, but that is a subject for another post.

7 comments:

mara said...

I am so sorry that my cousin was so obnoxious. If I had heard her, I would have taken up your cause. But don't feel bad for yourself, because even if everyone at the shower had presented the opposite side of the argument to said cousin, she would not have listened. This is a woman whose mother once said to me, in all seriousness, that if low income people are so worried about the lack of resources in their public schools, they should buy computers and learn on the internet.

By the way, thanks for the coolest shower ever, and I promise you will never see said couin again.

Sara said...

Don't take it personally. I am glad you had fun at the shower and Cousin was a good blog post subject on a day when I did not have much otherwise. I had a great time too!

new mom said...

Er, uh, do you think your cousin can pick me up some of that yummy perfume from Harrod's if she does indeed return to the US? Sorry!

Suzanne said...

Sorry I brought it up. I should have known better... And I think you did the right thing by being quiet. That chick was not going to listen to you.

montchan said...

Hi! I'm a lurker from Sweden, formerly from NYC. I used to be pro-union until I came to Sweden. ;-)

But I still like your blog!
:-)

I think I found you through bloggerchicks.

cheers!
Misty

mara said...

New Mom - it is not the rude cousin but the cool ex pat friend who lives in London. I don't know when I will be back in NYC (am about to become a new mom myself!) but if you are a friend of the Musing Farf, we can work something out re Harrods . . . .

Sara said...

I love that people are connecting (and we certainly welcome lurkers from Sweden, regardless of their union views!). New Mom is Husband's mom (so she is an experienced Mom, but new to me) and Mara is cool Ex Pat Friend. I would be happy to facilitate a Harrod's exchange, or pick up stuff when Suzanne and I visit in late winter/early spring!