August 08, 2006
Heckled and Humbled
Today is the 1 year anniversary of the day I (Kim) started my job. Although the rose colored glasses I wore when I began were smashed a long time ago, I have to say that I really truly love my job. And, despite it's difficulties, it's been a really good year. Although, recently I experienced something that left me a little wounded and very humbled. One of the perks of my job is that, in general, my residents adore me. They all think I'm an beautiful, sweet, helpful little girl. I'm often complimented on my clothes and my teeth (in a society where most people have dentures, teeth are highly valued). I've grown accustomed to this type of treatment, which was why I was completely crushed last week in one of my activities. I was just beginning my current events group when one of our new residents wandered in. I was thrilled to have her join us, but my jubilation quickly died. I was one sentence into the first article when she held her hand up to stop me and cried out with a grimace, "Oh, your voice is so high and nasally! I can't stand it! You have to do something!" I wasn't sure how to respond since I always talk as low and loud as possible (it's easier for those who are hard of hearing to pick up low sounds so I've trained myself to talk as low as I can). I explained to her that this was my voice and there wasn't anything I could do. She responded by saying, "Oh, but it's awful! I can't stand to listen to it. You have to do something." I was mortified. I told her the only thing I could think of, which was, "I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do. If you can't stand to listen to my voice, maybe you should leave the room." She didn't want to leave and sat back in her chair, but the activity was definitively ruined. All of the other residents weren't quite sure how to handle the exchange, and it was obvious they felt a little awkward. I was suddenly very self-conscious about my voice which only worsened during the activity as she felt a need to criticize something about every article I read ("You need to check your sources. I don't believe that's true." or "The article doesn't tell you anything more? I find that hard to believe. You should know these things." or "This is ridiculous. You're wasting their time telling them this.") It was one of the longest half hours I have ever endured. Fortunately, I have recovered...for the most part. I still am extremely aware of my voice whenever I talk, and I have slight panic attacks whenever I see this woman coming down the hall, but I appreciate it even more when I hear one resident whisper to another, "isn't she such a nice girl? And she has beautiful teeth!"