I recently had the experience of finding out how middle class I am. Working with young women in poverty we were taught at a seminar how we don’t understand why the poor do what they do. “Why don’t they just go get a job?” for instance.
I have been paired with a young woman with whom I will be a mentor, of sorts. Our group meets once a week for dinner and discussions but once a month the ‘leader’ (that’s the person ‘leading their family out of poverty) has to contact their ‘ally’ (that’s me) and make an appointment to meet somewhere else.
My girl had been missing from the group for 3 weeks so I hadn’t met her. She was supposed to get in touch to meet with me: I was expecting to hear from her and set up a meeting. She texted me and set up a time, then shortly before our meeting she said didn’t feel well and wanted to re-schedule. I said ‘ yes, how about tomorrow?”
She did not write back to schedule that day or the next until late afternoon when she wrote ‘she was ready now’. I was already very irritated after looking for her text for two days wondering what the hell she’s doing. It was really bugging me; I wrote back I had been waiting for two days and I’m not coming into town on such short notice. She said let’s meet the next day, I said OK: never heard back.
I was pissed off. I had a little speech ready for her on how relationships of trust are built on honesty and integrity. . . but then I met her at the next weeks group meeting. She was late because she walked across town with a stroller and two terrible children. They are so badly behaved and walk all over her. She is beaten down, depressed and over-whelmed. She hardly has a voice.
She was responding the way she had been taught; just tell the person what they want to hear or don’t respond at all. That gets you through that uncomfortable moment. You don’t think of future repercussions; its a life of damage control. I realized I had the typical middle-class reaction: “why won’t she write back and make that commitment?”
I’m no expert in psychology so I’m taking this very slow; one step at a time. From now on when she sets a date then cancels, her session has expired. I do have to explain how important honestly is; she is so used to bullshitting, she has never been taught any other way.
We, middle class people, don’t realize how much we were taught by our parents example: they set their alarms and went off to work everyday whether they wanted to or not. We had meals everyday at the same times. We have expectations that we can work and succeed in life; we can ‘get ahead’. In poverty you don’t consider the future; you just get through today the best way you know how. They can’t see their future being any different from today. They have very low expectations.
Am I losing my marbles or is there no spell check here today? You may find some mistakes. Don’t expect it to be perfect!
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “xp.” Use it as a word, or find a word with “xp”in it. As always, use any way you’d like.