......Thanks for coming back to finish this story. I wondered if you would.
During the holidays it is the busy season for my line of work. Often, you are paired with another employee to handle the work load. This year was no different, and I found myself working across from an employee of the opposite gender as myself. This person is very funny, witty, and a real joy to work with. He also is a very compassionate person and seems to have a knack of reading people very well.
One night, (remember I work nights....lucky me!) I happened to notice the said women I told you about yesterday, once again looking as if she wanted to gouge my eyes out. I must have made some type of facial gesture because my fellow co-worker, Pete picked up on it. The conversation below is what transpired from this one incident.
Very carefully, and very thoughtfully, Pete proceeded with the following questions. I have tried to relay them here exactly as the questions were put to me on this one particular night.
Pete: What do you think you would do if you worked 12 hours a day, everyday and you had to give your paycheck to your husband and did not get anything out of your paycheck but a full tank of gas and ten dollars?
Me: Huh? Right....not in my world.
Pete: No....hear me out. You know how this time of year, there are great sales going on and say you wanted to go to the store and buy yourself something but all you have is $10.00. You asked for more and you were told you did not need anything and the answer was no. What would you do?
Me: Someone better be ready to start running from the end of a baseball bat!
Pete: No.. no...hear me out....What would you feel like if it was your duty to bring money to the family and this was not option?
Me: Huh?... Duty? Well, if that was the way it was, then I'd dang sure not work 12 hours a day....are you for real?
Pete: Yes, I am for real.....What if you knew it was not an option and it would cause shame to your family if you did not do what was necessary to bring as much money into your household.
Me: Huh?... Well, they (the family) would get over it.....I would not agree to that. This is America, are you crazy? Everyone has a choice. Who and what are you talking about?
Pete: No.. no....you would do it because it is your culture to not question. If you did question, your brother would come to your house and beat the heck out of you because you would have shamed your family by disobeying.
Me: Huh?... Ha! I'd like to see him try to beat the heck out of me.....I would not do it....plain and simple....this is not a 3rd world country.....come on, Pete.
Pete: How do you think you would feel if it was expected of you to cook and entertain your mother-in-law when she is at your house, all day long until your husband gets home. All of this after you have worked hard for 12 hours the night before, and the only sleep you get is after 5:30 pm after your husband comes home, and you have to be at work by 8:00 pm. The only sleep you get in a 24 hour period is what you get at work on breaks and lunch and the couple of hours at home....Remember, this is expected, not an option. How would you feel?
Me: Look, forget how would I feel. How would you feel, because...I would not do it. Are you kidding me??? Someone would not live to tell about what I was doing. Seriously. Who treats someone like that?
Then, all of a sudden the light bulb went off in my head. Who was he talking about? Then it hit me, he was talking about Miss Sour-puss herself.
Me: Are you telling me, right here today, in America... The United States of America, where we have the freedom to choose for ourselves, live our lives without fear and the choices we make are not dictated by a over ruling husband that this woman does not know she has a choice? Come on, I don't buy that. These women have a choice, and they have lived in this country long enough to know that they have a choice.
Pete: No, they don't have a choice. Remember this is their culture. Because if they did try and change their situation they risk fear of being discarded.
Me: Well, that does not sound so bad....discard me!
Pete: No.... no, they also risk losing their children.
Me: Wait just a minute....What?
Pete: Yes. Its true.
Then Pete proceeds to tell me about how this said women's husband, the one who is always mad at the world, in order to teach her a lesson for questioning him, took her small child out of the country for over a year. She could not see her child for a year and ran up thousands of dollars in phone bills begging him to return here to the United States with her child. Vowing she would never question him again. No friggin' way.
I could not believe this was happening here in the United States, today. All of a sudden I felt so sorry for this lady. Pete told me she was not the only one, there were several women working in my place of employment from the same ethnic background who's lives were much of the same. Unbelievable. Unrealistic. Unimaginable.
Me: Pete, tell me this. Why does this women hate me so much. I can tell she hates the sight of me and I have never done anything to her. What gives?
Pete: You don't know?
Me: No. I don't get it.
Pete: You have not done anything to her, but you are everything she can not be.
Pete: You are a true Caucasian American women. Your life is all she dreams hers to be. You come in here everyday happy, friendly, you look nice, you look rested, you exhibit all she wants so badly but can not have.
Me: Rested? Not always. Happy? Not really. I would rather be at home!
Pete: But you get what I am saying. No, you have not done anything to her personally. But it is the image of what she can not have that draws the hate so fiercely.
Me: I can not believe all of this. In The United States of America? Unbelievable. No wonder she is always mad at the world. If that was me, I think I would have one dead husband for putting me through so much hell. And one dead brother for thinking he was going to bully me. Unbelievable.
Pete: No....remember it is the culture. The culture is stronger than what a country stands for. The culture is stronger than what one's heart desires. The culture dictates what their lives will be like.
Me: They have a choice.
Pete: If they choose differently, they risk losing everything. Plain and simple. Everything. They have no monies of their own, so how would they leave? No home, no car, no personal belongings, no children, nothing. It all belongs to the husband. They would have nothing. Culture.
Me: No wonder she hates me. How sad.
Pete: Now, you know.
I felt so sorry for this lady, I forgot how mad she has made me over the last few months with her nasty looks and hateful attitude. I am sure she will never warm up to me. And I am not so sure that if I was in her situation, that I would even want to like someone who in her eyes has everything she does not. It is really unimaginable to me.
I can not believe in The United States of America in the year
2009, that women are being treated in such a fashion and in their culture it is acceptable.
I am so glad that I live here in the land of the free. I am so glad that I am not from a culture that treats women with such disregard. Because I know myself, and I would not take that lying down. I am so thankful my husband knows not to try this crap on me....LOL.
I learned something that night. People really do judge a book by its cover, even if they will not admit they do that.
She....judges me from the outside...what she thinks I am. If she set her prejudices aside and tried to read the inside, she would know my life is not exactly as wonderful as she thinks it is. Nothing is that wonderful. She might even like me just a wee- bit.
Me... I judged her for horrible attitude, even if I don't want to admit it. I had a feeling she was a miserable person, but really had no idea to what extent that was true. If I was originally guessing the nature of her book it would have been a horror book, her being a mass murder, but in reality it was a tragic drama and when I looked more closely, and she is the victim.
Joy list entry number two: Joy in knowing I have the option to choose. Joy in knowing my culture does not direct my life and I am free to chose. Joy in being a women in the United States of America and respected.