It’s been something like two months since I’ve started working at the restaurant (we’ll call it that for now because I don’t want the wrong people to find this post) and every day that passes by, I feel less and less like I belong. To be honest, I never felt like I belonged in the first place.
Why do I need to feel a sense of belonging? It’s not like I’m going to spend the rest of my life working there; it’s just about the money – this isn’t my life. But I’m only human and everyone knows that Homo sapiens like to feel like they belong . . . lest they feel uncomfortable.
I don’t even think I can describe it as a feeling of discomfort. It’s so many things mixed into one and it will take a few trips around the bush for me to flesh this feeling out.
In my first few weeks (when it was a full-time job) I was bombarded with curious looks and I’m sure I was the centre of many discussions because I wasn’t as loud (ratchet might be more appropriate here) as them, I was too quiet and unnervingly polite. “Are you always this well-mannered?” asked one of my supervisors as she passed me on her way to the office. Well I’m not but in an environment like that where everyone is so full of hostility I’d rather be a positive ray of sunlight than fit in with the crowd.
When I was put to work on the make-table alongside a woman who I came to realize was not remotely sane, every few seconds she would ask me a question. “You not from here?”, “Why you does talk like that?”, “Where you from?” So I told her I was from Gonzales. She laughed. “And you talking like a yankee so?”
Growing up in an area like Gonzales (or simply behind the bridge), Morvant, Laventille, Beetham Gardens etc., does it mean that I have to constantly remind society (as if I wasn’t already aware) of that fact? It’s even worse when you don’t fit the stereotype that society has custom fitted for each and everyone of us who reside in such ‘at-risk’ areas because that Tweety Bird earring, Jordan’s wearing, powder on the neck, ‘behind the bridge’ lifestyle is not mine.
The discomfort increased ten fold when it became a part-time job and I was transferred to work in the Home Service Centre as a phone operator. The HSC is dominated by males – need I say more?
As a woman, a young woman, with different morals and values and a completely different outlook on life from the majority of my colleagues in the restaurant listening to some of the (extremely inappropriate) conversations that the others have is …. disheartening?
The weirdest thing about it all is the fact that most of the females engage in these conversations as well, and I don’t want to say they see nothing wrong with it but I’m sure 95% of the time they really can’t be arsed. Now, it’s not like I’m unaccustomed to hearing conversations like those neither am I saying that I’m not guilty of engaging in conversations about sex, it’s just that I can’t say that my male friends have ever said anything near as degrading or disrespectful about the female sex the way these men and women degrade females.
I enjoy working there – the pay comes in handy every week as I’m trying to save money for a trip. It’s been a great experience thus far that has enabled me to learn so much more about myself – my strengths and my weaknesses – but more than that, it has taught me so much about how different people are from me and I’m learning to cope with the fact that not all of us see everything the same way.