Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taxi Driver

I teach adults, and my area of specialization is the developmental level.

Some of these are people who squeaked by in high school, some need some assistance in bringing their written language to a level which parallels their spoken language, and some just didn't take the placement test seriously.

Unfortunately, I find more and more that I am teaching basic employability skills along with the parts of speech, paragraphing, and essay format. I am talking about things like showing up, calling off if absent, being punctual, not answering a cell phone during class lectures, wearing pants belted somewhere that is closer to the waist than the knees, removing hats indoors, covering abundant cleavage and huge tattoos, not cussing, and getting along with people who are challenging (i.e., smacking those who annoy us is not an acceptable way to act). There are days where I need to remind myself about that last one.

When the students fight me on my expectations, I point out that, yes, I am a fifty year old white woman, but guess who is doing the hiring--fifty year old white women. I do refrain from adding, "Duh."

One thing which I am noticing recently is the under the breath editorializing, much like I get at home from my preteen. For example, I generally will schedule a test the last hour of class. Class policy is that tests are given only during the scheduled time, as we have found that students will regularly make appointments during class time, or they will come when it is convenient for them and expect to make up the test.

So, a student will come to me on test day and say, "Can I take my test now?"

I will say, "The test will be given from noon until one today."

The student will then say, "But I have an appointment."

I will repeat that the test will be given from twelve until one.

"But I have an appointment."

Uh-huh. And the test is from twelve until one.

The student will then return to his or her seat muttering under his or her breath. "This is murmurmurmur. I have an appointment, and murmurmurmur, and murmurmurmur treat us like adults."

Some people will also start to take the test and have to leave. "This murmurs me off. I don't have time to murmur the murmur. I should be able to finish the work. Murmurmurmur so unfair."

I find that I am less tolerant of this behavior than I used to be. I find it passive aggressive and immature. Today was a bad day for the muttering and sputtering, and I suddenly flashed back to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who . . . do you think you're ...talking to? Oh, yeah. OK." Draws weapon.

So, rather than snap one day next week and end up on some ghastly news magazine show on some woman's network, I am going to have to address this with my students. Since I am modeling Appropriate Workplace Behavior, and since the only weapon I have is a Swingline Stapler, I need to do so in a manner which is professional and a good example to them. So, I will have to live the Taxi Driver scenario in my mind while smiling and pointing out that employers will not tolerate what I have tolerated this week. And then, with a little Travis Bickle edge, I will add that I won't be willing to entertain it anymore.


TobyBo said...

sounds like they better learn to make an appointment with a test from twelve to one. And keep that appointment.

TobyBo said...

I stopped back by and decided to say hi again since I cannot stand to see "1 comments."

Munchkin Mom said...

Well, I could have added, "You talking to me???" Ha.

TobyBo said...