I try not to get on my high horse unless I really have to, but something that happened today has made me want to don riding boots and carry a crop!
I am really super proud of one of my daughters who, instead of gaining work experience in a paid environment, chose to volunteer for a local charity shop. Now, she hasn’t been there long and has been given all the worst jobs to do (kind of like a rite of passage, I guess) but she’s stuck at it. She’s been a bit quiet about it over the last couple of weeks (which is odd) but I’ve put it down to exam pressure at school.
Well, that was a mistake. I forgot that the other reason she goes quiet is when something is bothering her. She frets on things, turning them over and over in her head until she’s got as much sense out of whatever is bothering her as she can, and then, (and only then,) will she talk to me. So when I collected her from work tonight and found her upset and saying she does not want to return I wanted to get to the bottom of it.
It transpires that she is friendly with an older member of staff in the shop who is profoundly deaf. My daughter said that although she has found it hard to communicate with this person, they do so by smiles, nods, hand gestures and patience with each other. As a result, they have built up a nice relationship.
However, other members of staff including, (and this is what has riled me so badly,) the person in charge, appear to get their kicks out of publically taking the piss out of the way the deaf person sounds when they speak. This is, I repeat, a Charity shop.
My daughter has refused to join in, so now (perhaps inevitably) they have started including her in their ‘jokes’. She said that when she talks to this person she is very aware of the others laughing at the pair of them, and she has had enough of it. She said she doesn’t think the deaf person realises (although I suspect that they tactfully choose to be blind as well as deaf), and she doesn’t want me to say anything at the shop in case it rebounds on her – and I have to respect her wishes – but my blood is quietly boiling! (Can you tell?!)
I want to go in there and rip the person in charge a new a-hole! How dare they behave like that? More to the point, how dare they encourage other members of staff to do so – particularly, impressionable kids? I am so proud to know that my daughter is offended by behaviour like this and won’t be easily led, and that she has enough strength of character to not join in. But she is not old enough to be able to tell them where to go and instead feels like her only recourse is to not go back to work there. Which is a shame for both her and the deaf person she has befriended. And, more to the point, for the charity who will have lost a member of staff who genuinely treats people with equality and respect – a lesson that the staff member in charge badly needs.