Truth, Respect and Values

Comment from bethany J: “you are quite free with your critical comments about individuals- aren’t you afraid of getting sued? I think you commit slander with these articles.”

In the first place, only a fool would sue me because I am independently poor. My Social Security is subsistence income and therefore is protected by law and cannot be taken from me. Who would spend all that money to sue me for damages when they can’t recover a cent? The most valuable things I own are a three-year-old computer and a five-year-old power wheelchair, neither of which is worth more than a few hundred dollars.

In the second place, slander is the spoken word; libel is the written word. What I post on my blog is, therefore, not slander.

In the third place, to win either a libel or slander suit you must prove that the words I have uttered are false. I am very, very careful to either (a) make sure that what I say is true, or (b) write it in such a way as to inform the reader that I am not sure if it is true.

To avoid “slander,” as you call it, does not mean I have to say nice things about people; it means I have to say true things. I can say very, very bad things about people if the things are true, which is what I do.

“HON” and “DEAR”
For years I have ranted about how much I hate to be called “hon” or “dear” and this morning I finally got it: it is a clear statement that the speaker does not care about me at all.

In the first place, it is something only women do. I know they do it to other women but, not being a man, I don’t know if they do it to men. It is supposed to be a term of endearment but too often women say it to complete strangers.

It is condescending and patronizing. Nobody ever called Hilary Clinton or Margaret Thatcher “sweetie.” It says that the speaker thinks she is of a higher class than the person being spoken to.

When it is used by a waitress or cashier, who has no opportunity to learn your name, then it is disrespectful. Traditionally, the proper terms of courtesy and respect for speaking to an unidentified woman are “ma’am” or “miss.”

So this morning I push my call bell and a young, healthy, blonde-haired woman comes in—nurse or assistant unknown—and calls me “hon.” And I get it. I, as a person, am not important enough for her to learn my name. She’s been given my name but she isn’t interested enough in me to memorize the name by which I am called.

I remember other young women whom I have spoken to about the use of diminutives instead of proper names, and some of them have responded, “Oh, that’s just the way I am.” Exactly. They are self-centered. The other person doesn’t matter; only they matter.

The girl from the nursing staff returns, announces that she has left her ID at home, and calls me “dear.” Translation: she is lazy, disorganized, patronizing and self-centered. Would you want her to be caring for your bodily needs today? Nah, me neither.

So Syracuse has had a succession of beautiful days in which the weather was absolutely perfect—blue sky, warm sun, light breeze, cool nights and the trees turning color. The kind of day when you absolutely must go outside; the kind of day that the Iroquois would not let me go outside, so what does Crouse Hospital do?

They leave my power wheelchair in my room and ask only that if I’m leaving the floor then I tell them, and return within two hours. That’s kinda-sorta how they do it. Actually, they don’t have any set policy or anything in writing. What Crouse does is, um, mind their own business and let you mind yours. Wow—there’s a concept! And apparently it works okay for them.

The fact is that they’d like you to stay in your bed, but apparently they have some sense that you’re a free and independent being, and they’re not your mother—or your owner—and we all just should be considerate of one another.

The additional fact is that almost two blocks north of the hospital there is a CVS drugstore, which also happens to be one block south of the apartment where I lived for four years. I am familiar with the neighborhood as well as the store clerks. One of them told me that she, personally, does not mind people shopping at the drugstore while they are Crouse inpatients but she is a bit put off when they come in pushing IV poles.

I told this story to one of the Crouse staff and she turned pale but went on to say that if they make a policy then it will have to apply to all patients, ranging from people in Intensive Care to people like me. I’m on ALC, Alternate Level of Care, which means the physician only sees me once a week, and I no longer need acute care but there’s nowhere else to put me. If I were back living in my former apartment then nobody would have any more right to restrict my movements than they have to restrict your movements and, who knows, I may yet end up back there.

My respect and affection for Crouse Hospital is deepening into love. They provide quality medical care and, other than that, mind their own business, which is a novelty in this day and age. My family, descended from hundreds of years of farmers, had a creed that came down to this: (1) Worship God; (2) plant every spring; (3) mind your own business.

Life can be pretty simple if you figure out your core values and stick to them.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in activism, Government Services, Housing, Medical care, Poverty, Power, power wheelchairs, Values and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Truth, Respect and Values

  1. qwester says:

    One of your best (for me)

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