Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Levels of assumption

Way back when I heard that one of the ways class gets demonstrated is how one finds a telephone number. It was posited that a lower soci-economic class person would use the phone book (remember those?) and an upper class person would call the operator.

Today was my first experience with the entrepreneurial association and I am their event manager. The event was held at a country club, a venue I'm not sure I have ever been to, ever. I have since learned it is a rather exclusive one at that. It was so clear that the people from this association have money, make major money. It was a joint event with another sibling organization whose guidelines I am not familiar with but for ours I know the members need to be owners, CEO, or a major share holder in a business that grosses at least one million and are under 50 years old. These folks read like that too. So did their spouses, who with one exception, were fashionably thin; who were with one exception perfectly stylish. With one exception the members appeared to all be white; with one exception one spouse appeared to all be white.

The other group had some stickers for spousal name tags since they had left the other format at their office about 2 hours away. At one point a spouse (yes all the spouses were women, and 98% of the members that came to this event were male) folded up a sticker tag that wasn't needed and without even looking for a trash container she handed it to me without even looking at me. It was so clear that as far as she was concerned I was merely staff and would of course handle cleaning up after her. It would have never occurred to me to act like that, to assume someone else would take care of my trash.

In the car returning from the event, my co-worker and I were chatting. Being me, I couldn't help stating out loud how white the event was though I did couch it to suggest that perhaps it was related to the area -southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. He chuckled and said something like "You're not used to that, are you?". No, no I'm not. I noted that wasn't shocked. He said perhaps I a bit surprised. I was but only because I like to be optimist and just because it made sense that this group would be all white did not mean that I had to expect it.

Which leads me to think, would I expect the behavior from a black woman that I received at this event? Probably not but then again I did not expect it from a white woman. It's not that I was surprised exactly but shocked at stereotype being played out.

It's been a very long day what with being on the job from 8am -9:30pm. My bed is softly calling me now. 'Night.

2 comments:

LittleWit said...

I love the phone book. It baffles me when people can't grasp the concept of looking it up in the phone book, especially for a local number/business. :)

Oh and I would always find my own trash can, or ask nicely were it is located.

goblinbox said...

I never use paper any more; I'd look a number up online. But I'd do it myself, rather than having someone else do it.

I'd also deal with my own trash; like you it would never occur to me to assume someone else would do it.

I tend to tidy public spaces as matter of habit. Clearly this means I'm low caste.

Oh well.