Friday, May 13, 2011

I just need to vent

and get all of my defensiveness out here.

Today while I was on my way to fetch a child from class for tutoring, I passed a teacher who had wrenched her back, who was in horrible pain, and who was being lowered into a chair. With her were two other teachers--one older and female, one youngish and male. I stopped and expressed my concern, figured out what had happened (she had messed up her back a little bit earlier, and then had tried to push two fighting kids apart and has seriously wrenched it, or it had gone into spasm), and offered to get her some ice from the cafeteria. No one responded, so I waited a moment and offered again. At this point the older woman rounded on me and asked, in an extremely aggressive and malicious fashion, "Do you have a medical degree?" I do not have a medical degree, though I could have done. She also said something about how ice would do nothing in a situation like this and asked something like why I thought I was qualified to offer advice. I, dumbfounded by this wave of disdain, gave the most relevant and least impressive answer--that my mother is a massage therapist. Had she actually been looking for information, she might have realized that massage therapists deal with muscular issues such as this one; but as she was not looking for information, and rather was bullying, she stayed nasty and said "well that's nice," and informed me that I was not a Richmond City Public Schools medical personnel, and thus had nothing to say on the matter.

Now, I am aware of the fact that I look like a student, but no one should be treated in this fashion, particularly if he or she is offering assistance. She could have asked me to leave or told me that the situation was under control. She could have sent me off for ice and then refrained from using it, if she just wanted me to leave. But no. She attacked.

Had I been less stunned and had I thought more carefully, I might have given the more impressive answer, though it probably wouldn't have made a difference in that kind of verbal and emotional assault. "Well, ma'am, I have been trained in advanced first aid in addition to first aid. I am also a lifeguard." (I am also certified in CPRO, AED and WSI, but these are obviously less relevant.) I might have explained that when a person's muscles go into spasm, what they need is to relax, and what a doctor will prescribe is a combination of muscle relaxants, hot compresses, and cold compresses. Hot compresses aren't available in a high school hallway in any case, but ice will at the very least numb the pain and act as a placebo, if nothing else. And in case you aren't aware, the placebo effect can be a very powerful thing. What actually doesn't help is lowering a person into a chair, hovering over them, bitching at anyone who tries to help, and repeatedly telling the injured party that you told her she shouldn't try to do that stuff she just did that fucked up her back. Weird, I know.

I wanted to speak to this woman (I don't know her name) about our little confrontation, but I couldn't think of a way to bring it up that wouldn't lead to immediate escalation and a scene. All I could think of to say was "I don't appreciate your attitude," which would obviously have been unhelpful. I probably won't end up saying anything, but if I do, I think it may be more along the lines of "why would you speak to me that way?"

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