Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Lesson Learned

I was a latch-key kid. I'm not sure if that term is used anymore. It means that when I arrived home from school my mother was still at work. I think that my latch-key experience started earlier than most. I was doing the coming home to an empty house thing in first grade.

I went to a public school that was not in my neighborhood. My mother didn't feel that the local public school was good enough so she sent me to a school in a nearby neighborhood. This meant that I had to get to school taking public transportation, the bus.

So every morning starting in first grade I took the bus to school by myself. I think 5 years old is way to young to be taking a city bus to school alone. I think that those bus rides helped me to develop the agoraphobia I suffer from now. I was always nervous. I used to get stomach pains every morning when it was time for me to leave.

One of the drawbacks to going to school in a neighborhood that was not mine was none of my school mates lived near me. So occasionally I would stay around after school and visit with my friends. I wasn't supposed to. My orders were to be on the bus within 10 minutes of school being out.

My mom obviously wanted me to get home as soon as possible so that she would know that I was home safe. If I wasn't in the house she could call a neighbor to find out if I was outside playing.

Another reason was that the bus pass I used was only good during normal school commute hours. That would be from about 7 a.m. until about 4 p.m. Well sometimes, being a kid, I would play with my schoolmates beyond 4 p.m. Which meant that technically I wasn't suppose to use my bus pass. But I usually did and had no problems with the bus drivers who probably could have cared less.

Anyway on one particular day after staying later than I should have to hang out with my little friends, I found myself (once again) on the bus after 4 p.m. Everything went just fine. I boarded the bus, showed my pass and made the ride home.

Well eventually my mother made it home from work. When she walked in the door she didn't look pleased. She had that "You're in big trouble" look on her face. I remember my little mind scrambling to think of what I could have done. But I couldn't come up with anything.

After my mother got in the door she sat me down and proceeded to question me about my day. Which was fairly normal except she usually waited until a little later for the how was your day conversation, which was another indicator that I was in trouble.

I told her about my day, all along wondering in my little head if I was incriminating myself in some way. Finally my mother asked me what time I got home. Okay, this wasn't good. Because I stayed after school to 'hang out'. Eventually after getting me to admit that I had indeed stayed late my mom said something that I have never forgotten. She said "when you are in public, be careful what you do, because you never know who is watching."

It turns out that my mother was on the bus! She saw me with her own eyes getting on the bus late. She had left work early to do some shopping. I never saw her.

Well this brings me to an amazingly identical situation I experienced this past week. Sometimes my supervisor at work asks me to interview potential employees. I really don't mind doing it because I feel that it allows me to have a little control over who I work with.

So I was told that the next day I had an appointment with a women for her interview.

The next morning was just like any other, not remarkable in any way. Except on the bus on my way to work there was as usual, someone yapping on their cell phone and loudly of course. I had to sit and listen to this woman talking about how she was going to beat up some other woman the next time she saw her. And I won't even repeat her language. It suffices to say that she could give any rapper a run for their money with the amount of N words and B words she was throwing around.

I was so happy to get off that bus!

I made it to work, feeling a little excited about my upcoming interview. I sat down and made a few notes for the interview, just basic questions I wanted to ask. I take these interviews seriously because my supervisor always hires whomever I recommend. So the quality of my selection is important to me.

My office phone rang and it was the receptionist (she hates being called a receptionist, she prefers office assistant) telling me that my interviewee had arrived. So I gathered my notebook as I was going to interview her in the conference room and I went to the reception area.

And guess who was sitting in the reception area waiting to be interviewed?

It was the woman from the bus, the one who was yapping on her cell phone about kicking some one's butt. My mom's words flew back in my head. "Be careful what you do in public, because you never know who's watching."

Do I really need to tell you that the interview was just a going through the motions type thing. She had lost all chance of getting the position when she decided to yack on her cell phone earlier that morning on the bus.

I was tempted to tell her that I wasn't going to recommend her for the job and why but I envisioned sitting in a courtroom defending my self from a lawsuit. So that young woman, who on paper was qualified for the job, didn't get the job. She has no idea why she wasn't hired.

It's too bad she never had anyone to give her the advice my mother gave me.

17 comments:

KreativeMix said...

OH wow, what a small world!!! We should always be mindful of how we conduct ourselves. You never know who's watching. Too bad she didn't get the oppotunity to learn from that mistake. I completely understand why you definitely could not tell her.

Sa Lone Pikin

Mes Deux Cents said...

hi KreativeMix,


Yeah I feel bad for her. but the writing was on the wall, if I'd told her there would have been a problem.

Symphony said...

I was a latchkey at six.

Around third grade or so I got up got dressed for school on my own too. Just had to stop by my mom's room so she could check me out before walking to school on my own.

It seems like another world. Now I have to follow my nine-year old around with a whip to keep him on track and on time.

The same mother who had me doing things for myself at such a young age wants to baby him--I'm not having it. Wont make him grow up too soon but he wont be lazy either.

Anywho, its tough to feel qualified for a job and not understand why you didn't get it. And you're right, so many people have never been trained to know just how many seemingly unrelated things effect each other.

browngirl said...

wow! if i didn't remember that advice, i do now. that's insane. and yes, yuo would have been in front of all kinds of EEO committeesa and what not...

Mes Deux Cents said...

Symphony,

I think the days of latch-key kids are mostly over, especially in urban areas.

As I think back on that time I was incredibly self-sufficient for a 5 y.o. as I 'm sure you were as well.

It's amazing what high expectations can do for a kid.



Browngirl,

You are absolutely right. A slip of the tongue can easily cost a person their job. And it doesn't matter what your intentions might have been.

Lisa said...

MDC: Yes, they still use the word "latchkey" and there are quite a few latchkey kids who attend the elementary school across the street from the high school where I work - they just seem so tiny to me, and some of them have even smaller brothers and sisters they have to keep up with.

As far as the interview goes - who you are "at home" is who you are - you would've heard that language again - probably directed at you, had you hired her.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Lisa,

I think you're right. Her attitude was atrocious and demeanor was atrocious on the bus. That would have come into the office I'm sure. The whole office would have been mad at me!

Being a latch-key kid is a big responsibility. I'm not sure how I managed so well. So I really can't imagine how little ones are able to keep up with their younger siblings, that's a lot for an adult.

clnmike said...

"It turns out that my mother was on the bus! She saw me with her own eyes getting on the bus late. She had left work early to do some shopping. I never saw her."

LOL, that was a good one.

How ever I am not to comfortable with the idea of a qualified lady not being hired based on her personal affairs. I think how we conduct ourselves in a work enviroment and what we do out side of it our two different things. I do not think she gave you enough info about her on the bus for you to think that her work ethic will be questionable.
Thats just me.

Miriam said...

I'm with Lisa on this. I think maybe she was 'qualified' for the job, but maybe she really wasn't.

That cell phone call could have been about/at you a few months later! lol

Mes Deux Cents said...

CinMike,

Part of being qualified for a job is how you work and get along with others. When an adult makes it known publicly that they plan to commit an assault, I think that is a reason to disqualify them for a job.

What would you have done? Hired her?






Miriam,

(lol)Exactly!

Shelly said...

Oh my days it is SO true! My mummy gave me similar advice when I was young too... that kind of thing really stays with you.

It is such a small world and one should always conduct oneself with modesty and dignity wherever possible when you're out and about.

And this is another reason why I can't stand people having loud, vulgar conversations on their mobile phones in public. Some decorum, please!!!

Randi523 said...

I'm so sick of hearing people yakking on cell phones (loudly) in public, so I say she got what she deserved!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Shelly,

"It is such a small world and one should always conduct oneself with modesty and dignity wherever possible when you're out and about."

Those words should be given to every human when they turn 18!





Randi,

It's sooo out of hand. People just don't have any boundaries anymore. There is a time for everything and everything shouldn't be done in public!

Liz said...

Wowzer! That's really something that your mom saw you like that and that you saw this woman behaving in the way she did. She didn't recognize you from the bus at all?

I love it when folks yap and spill all their business when they're on their cell phone. It gives me lots of interesting stuff to write about.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Liz,

She was to busy talking on her phone to notice anyone. I noticed her though!

Afrodite said...

Quite profound.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Afrodite,

And a little sad too.

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron