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Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Feel Disrespected When You Call Me Honey.

The 2008-2009 school year was my year of understanding that my sunny worldview may not be always true. 

I’ve come to know myself as a positive, "half glass full" kind of person.  I’d even once shared with my bullying boss—before the relentless onslaught of abuse had slammed me-- that I just expected good and that in general, I got it. 

But 2008-2009 was the beginning of my awareness that maybe there is evil in the world. Then I didn’t have words to put to my apprehension.  I just knew that I felt like an unwanted outcast by him and his cronies.  

There were innuendos.  There were obtuse statements.  One in particular I recall from one of my fellow counselors.  “Just do what he says and you will be ok.”   

Little things. Well, seemingly little things.  I’ve learned you can’t let them go.  The little things become big and out of control things in no time.  Like this little thing; my account here of being called honey by my principal. 

Tip of the iceberg.  First screeching rip on the Titanic’s side.

I am not aboard the Titanic.  

Before I became a school counselor, I was a flight attendant.  I retired from a major carrier after 26 years.  I was language qualified in French, Portuguese and Spanish.  I have been around--the world and the block-- no spring chicken here!  

 I remember once on an airplane, a self absorbed and arrogant man boarded as our door was closing.  The overhead bins were packed.  He brushed by me, shoving his large parcel at me and said, “Here honey, take care of this.”  I recall, even then—what age was I? 25? 26?—feeling the swell of outrage.   

Here’s what I did that day.  Here’s what I said and here’s what happened.  I held his parcel and I said crisply, “You don’t get to call me honey.”  I continued more warmly, “You do get to call me Kim. Let’s look together for a place for this.”   

The other eleven passengers in first class clapped.  Wonderful. That felt good.   

I’m sitting taller right now just writing about that day.

My former principal called me honey three times.  What age was I?  53. Almost 30 years after my passengers' spontaneous airplane applause and I disliked it just as much.  Almost 30 years later and the same outrage filled me. 

The first time my principal called me honey I said nothing.  I was shocked as he tossed papers to his desk and stated, “You forgot to sign this honey.”  I sucked in my breath and backed out of his office.  I mumbled “Oh I’m so sorry......” 

 I’m sitting smaller now just writing about that day. 

The second time my brutish, egotistical boss called me honey, I retorted with what I thought was wit.  I also thought he’d get the message that I did not like his disrespectful treatment. I said, “You’re not going to call me honey now are you sweetie?”   

My wit did not work.  He seemed to like it.  He probably thought I was flirting with him.

The third time he called me honey was a phone call from him to me.  I remember his words: “That’s not the way we do things around here honey.”  He hung up the phone.  Click.  

As I held the phone’s receiver-- the deadened line-- to my ear; as my jaw dropped in the same outrage I’d felt years before on an airplane to who knows where; as I sat with a student who was assisting me with filing papers, my legs propelled me up and out of my seat and office, down the stairs and the hallway and straight into the main office.  I saw him in the corridor.  

 “Don’t call me honey” I said.  “I don’t like it.  I feel disrespected when you do so.” 

I was on a role.  My energy, instead of dissipating with those words, grew.  “You are on thin ice.  You are a man.  I am a woman and I work for you.  Don’t call me honey.”  

 I was done.  He grunted. “Sorry.” 
 I’m sitting tall again. 


8:26 pm est          Comments

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