We used to lounge around a lot during the internship, particularly if it was a slow day, and given that we had three couches in the room that was our office, it was common practice to stretch out on the couch and put our heads on the pillows–although God knows who had farted or put bare feet on the couch. So I had kinda started to bug everyone because they all were putting their shoes on the couch–the very same couch we put our faces on. I had also started to irritate everyone because if I saw someone’s feet on the tables–the same tables where we ate our lunches, I’d tell them to take it down.
So, I remember that the kick-off during my internship where we first met a lot of the youth we’d be working with that summer, they suggested that we have a volleyball net, and I thought it was a good idea. One of the interns (who has ADHD and some other social quirks that have prevented him from moving forward in life, but that’s just my assessment) came in with the volleyball net and steaks and just threw them on the couch with dirt and all manner of NASTINESS onto the black cloth couch.
Well, i went off.
I further went off when I saw that there were BUGS–actual creepy crawly things–crawling off of the couch wondering why the hell they were there. And I was asking the same question. Now that was kind of the line even for everyone else with me and the other intern, the one who I was cool with like “Man, that’s not cool” but the one who brought it in, barely shrugging it off as if he hadn’t done anything wrong. And the final intern more mad at the fact that I severely scolded a 19-year-old.
Well, that was one of the pinnacles of my “high maintenance” but it certainly wasn’t the only one. But forgive me if I’m a full proponent of creature comforts such as air-conditioning and indoor plumbing. Clearly, I was having a very hard time when we went to CreationFest and had to do the camping thing for four nights–with only a Port-A-Potty. They made fun of me because I ironed my shirts and jeans in the morning before I came into work, and at least pointed out how my footwork matched my shorts (I have a pair of Chucks where the inside matches a pair of plaid shorts).
So, in my final one-on-one with my youth director, he threw out the phrase that I was “high maintenance” and I tried my best to explain to him that all of my friends iron their clothes and don’t put their feet on tables lounging around at work.
I don’t think he got it.
I’m really not a germaphobe, I’m really not. I mean, I still pick my nose if it itches enough and there is no tissue readily available. But as far as nasty versus clean, I squarely fall in the clean category. Neat vs. clean is a toss-up. I mean, I will take off a pair of pants and just leave em there, but to me, that’s just junky, not nasty. Random farting, and making a big deal out of it and putting feet up on EVERYTHING like it’s yours–while wearing flip flops is NOT my idea of what’s up.
In my own limited frame, everytime I saw one of them just prop random feet up on something in the back of my mind I was shaking my head and saying “White people.” So, I wonder if they were in the back of their collective heads saying “Black people.” And moreover, I wonder who’s right. In their mindframe, I was completely making a mountain out of a molehill, and I was just doing wayyyyyyyyyy too much by making sure I ironed my clothes and that my footwork matched what I had on that day.
I just thought they were plained nasty. I never thought that it was a big deal that they didn’t match, or that they didnt iron their clothes. I mean somedays I don’t either, but that’s dependent on what I wear. If it’s really just a t-shirt and jeans day, I’m not ironing. But if I’m putting on a polo, I’m ironing it; and if there’s the worlds biggest crease in a pair of jeans, I’m ironing them as well.
I also ask is this something that is a cultural difference, and a racial difference by default? I mean, the white folk I knew, the handful that it was, was just about as laxed about clothing as these were. Even with the teens, the boys–OMG–some of them clearly weren’t showering from day to day and were wearing the same clothes. One of them would always wear a purple bandana, brown shorts and a blue shirt from Family Force 5 (actually one I threatened to steal from him cuz I thought it was a hot graphic tee). Now, I thought the kid was cool to hang out with–but damn, fashion just wasn’t priority, and from the smell, neither was hygeine.
So am I high maintenance because I don’t put my feet on things and don’t want people around me doing it, out of the simple reason that I don’t want their germs, because I want to make sure I look decent when I step out of the house by matching and ironing my clothes–or am I just acking snobbish?