Friday, November 27, 2009

The Ultimate Mrs.

My mother and I were having a discussion last night about how some people get all caught up in their titles and/or position and how they try to intimidate people with it. My mother and I actually have the same take on this; I've never been one to be intimidated by someone just because they were my boss, a boss or whoever happened to be in charge. Neither is she. I don't know why this is or how I came to be that way, but I've never really thought the person who was "the boss" was any better than me. They were just people. My mother feels the same way.

I was telling her about my department boss when I worked at a resort hotel many years ago; his name was Coleman Hughes. When I first met him, he introduced himself to me saying something to the effect of "Hi, I'm Coleman. Nice to meet you." I gave him my name, told him it was nice to meet him too and then went about my business. On occassion, I would need to go to his office for certain permissions or direction, and when I did, I always called him Coleman.

Everyone in the department was afraid of him. They'd cower or disappear whenever he was around. They'd say, "Coleman is coming!" in hushed tones whenever he was near. When he was hovering around the office, they'd be busy like bees until he left. One day, someone overheard my conversation with him and said to me after I left his office, "You called him Coleman???" I said, "Yeah, why?" "You don't call him Mr. Hughes?" I said, "No. He introduced himself to me as Coleman, so that's what I call him." I was alway so amazed how people kissed his ass all over the place. I was just not one of those people.

So in telling my mother this story, she told me one of her own. She used to work at a drug treatment facility in New York that was owned by a recovering alcoholic who happened to be Catholic. The facility also had several nuns on staff and my mother was one of the drug and alcohol abuse counselors. Her department was run by this big Irish guy named John who was a devout Catholic.

At a staff meeting one day while they were discussing patient loads, my mother addressed Sister Mary Katherine Benedicta as Mary. That's apparently when all the trouble began. The next morning before the staff meeting, her boss John said he wanted to see her in his office. So in my mother went.

Whe she sat down, she noticed Sister Mary Katherine in the other chair. John began the conversation by telling my mother that he called her into his office because he wanted to talk to her about the fact that she was disrespectful to Sister Mary Katherine in front of the rest of the staff.

My mother confused, said "How so?'

"Well, you are Catholic, right?" he asked.

"Yes," my mother said.

"Well yesterday at the staff meeting, you did not address Sister Mary Katherine as "Sister". You called her by her first name."

My mother said, "Yeah?" not quite understanding what he was getting at.

"Well, that's disrespectful. You are supposed to call a nun, Sister."

The nun was quiet at first, but then piped in saying "Even Laura calls me Sister and she's Jewish."

"Well, I don't think I did anything wrong." my mother said. "That is your name."

"Being Catholic, you should know that I'm Sister Mary Katherine. By not using my title, you're being disrespectful to me. After all, I am married to God."

"Well, I'm married to Frank and you don't call me Mrs. Porpora."

The nun got all flustered and sputtered, "Well, that's just different."

My mother, not being one to intentionally be disrespectful said "I didn't meant to be disrespectful to you and I'm very sorry if you were offended." The nun seemed okay with the apology but my mother got the distinct feeling that the nun didn't really like her too much.

With that, my mother looked at John, looked at the nun and left the office. She said she felt as if she were being reprimanded in her adult life just as she had been in her youth when she was in Catechism class. She was surprised they didn't make her write one hundred times on the blackboard, "I will not call the nuns by their first names."

I've never been to Catholic school (thank God) but it seems the only thing missing from this little office visit was my mother being smacked on the knuckles with a ruler. Isn't that how the nuns usually got the kids to behave?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Happy Thanksgiving
The Kind Of Contraction That Produces A Laugh, Not A Baby
Wanderlust Officially Approved
The Eye Of The Beholder


Leigh Hutchens Burch said...

That's a really funny story about your mom and the nun.

When I was in high school, a good friend's parents insisted that we all call them "Mr. and Mrs. Jones" until we were married, as a sign of respect.

That highly annoyed me.

G said...

hahahahaha! that's a funny story with your mum and sister...
oh well...
people do love to label :)

this is a cool post! :D

Gil said...

That's too much! It is amazing how people let titles get to their heads. I don't think Sister Mary Katherine was very Christ like in her actions!

Epskee said...

LOL @ Mrs Porpora - fantastic!

I was never afraid of bosses either, or anyone in authority. My younger sister was terrified of her first boss, until I pointed out that our father was in a much higher position, and she wasnt afraid of him, was she?

Problem solved