Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle

A conversation left unsaid... for better or worse:  

You got my name wrong.  In the hallway.  Above the door to my classroom.  The plaques every teacher has.  It's a little thing.  One letter off.  This is not a serious deal.  
I've spent the past five years trying to get kids to learn the difference between Miss, Ms., and Mrs.  Trying to explain,  to get them to pay attention to those little details.  And my students now know the difference.  They read the signs.  And as a result, they've been calling me by the wrong name.    

And it really bothers me.  It doesn't bother me so much that the mistake was made.  No, that one additional letter is often assumed when a woman of 'a certain age' - ie. my - age enters a room.  People assume I'm married.  And that's ok.  I'd probably assume I was married, too.    
But we had that conversation.  Face to face.  Are you a Miss, a Ms. or a Mrs?  It happened together.  You wrote it down.  I had to sign off on it.  But ok.  The mistake was made.  It's not the end of the world.  

However.  On the worst day yet, when the sign appeared and it was wrong, it did bother me.  It bothered me a lot.  In a place where nothing is familiar, no one knows who I am, my history, my strengths or weaknesses and I find myself clinging to the things I know, the things that make me feel like me, that make me feel like I'm not a stranger in this strange new land.  That was the day you made it worse.  
The situation is not a deal.  It's excusable.  It's correctable.  But your response?  

"Well, maybe if you got a life and could land a man, I wouldn't have to order a new sign."    


I don't care if you meant it as a joke, if you did it with a smile on your face and a glimmer in your eye.  I don't particularly find it funny.  I know you were irritated, that you don't really want to order a new sign. That you lost or forgot or misread your own handwriting and felt the urge to ask someone else who knows nothing about me for clarification.  That clarification was wrong.  

Let's start with a new sign.  I'll continue to correct my students.  To reintroduce myself as the woman I actually am - the woman I'm proud to be.  And perhaps one day you'll look at me and be able to see beyond an empty ring finger.  And maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to share a space where we can both turn around, look each other in the eye, and see each other for who and what we really are.  

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