Let it be known that I’ve been struggling as to how I should write this post and that I’m not incredibly proud of everything that it entails. Nevertheless, it has to be written.
To preface the main story, the reader should know that there has been an escalating conflict between the robotics team and the AEA associates we share our room with, ever since we moved in. Mostly this conflict has been over territory, and has been brought to my attention by my coach who has had to have talks with our associate principle Mr. Meunch when the AEA associates have issued a complaint. I’m not sure where the name comes from or exactly what these associates do, but up until last Tuesday, we’ve always referred to them as “the Grant Wood people”. Where this name comes from – I have no idea. More recently these complaints have grown from simple territorial conflicts (e.g. our stuff is on their side) to more accusatory claims such as we let a bat get in the room, or we took some of their pencils. I’ve in general blown off these complaints as something I would hear from a teenage girl. Within the last month or so, I’ve began to understand that it is perhaps only a handful of the associates that we actually have a problem with and that there is one in particular, Amy, who is actually very friendly and pleasant (she opened the door for us one day [the lock on it is broken and engages when shut] and she managed to do so with a smile). The most recent issue was centered around a box that we were apparently leaving on their side. I personally did not know that the area we were leaving it in was actually theirs, as it was on the border, and had I known this I might’ve tried to find a better spot for it when I was reorganizing the room a few weeks ago. But since it was on their side, they decided to have Mr. Muench come down and move it to our side, 2 feet away (which I’m sure he was thrilled about).
Cheryl was not so thrilled about this when we walked in last Tuesday afternoon, and neither was one of the Grant Wood people who had left a note on our box saying to keep it on our side. This person also happened to be in the room at the time and was presumably finishing up some paperwork as we walked in. She was quick to question Cheryl as to why the box was on their side – and thus the argument started. I was right behind Cheryl and was equally thrown off guard by the questioning and odd mannerisms of this particular associate. I say odd because I could not tell what her facial expressions were supposed to mean; a stare of flustered confusion to me means she was either insulted or didn’t know how to respond (or both). In this case, I encountered such an expression when I asked her “where would you prefer we put the box”. I responded to her face with an additional and curiously expressed “I’m just asking – would this be a better spot or is this in the way?”. I certainly hope that I did indeed come off as non-threatening and only curious. She responded to me in a semi-condescending way saying that “this is still our side and we sometimes have meetings right there”. At this point I believe Cheryl jumped in and said something on the lines of, “why is that a problem”, to which I agreed (mentally) but also understood that it’s technically not their problem. I then attempted to ask another question – asking if it would be better to move the box slightly over so that it was more or less on the border, and was even farther out of their way. I’m not entirely sure if she actually listened to me this time around, or not, because as I was conveying my idea, she was also trying to talk at me. I stop talking mainly because I was insulted by her suggestion that I step outside the room and let Cheryl and her talk. Reiterating this, she argued that this was “an adult conversation”. No words aggravate me more than those of condescension to my level of maturity. I hate it when my uncles do it, I hate it when my aunts do it, and I hate it when my parents do it – all around it shortens my fuse by miles.
At this point, I can assume my face was cherry red. Both Cheryl and this associate’s faces were reddening, and I could feel that cold rush of terrifying adrenaline in my chest. I stated more defiantly that “I am going to be a part of this conversation”, to which the associate replied “then I’m not going to be”. Matter-of-factly, I said “well good then you can leave.” some of my friends think this wasn’t the best thing to say, but I personally think it was the very best – after all, if she’s not going to be a team player when it comes to solving conflicts, then why should she even stick around? She then readdresses Cheryl saying that they should set up a time when they can talk privately – once again she was excluding me from the conversation. With my fuse gone, my natural reaction was to give an arm gesture equivalent to “flipping the bird”. And so, although I was not thinking of it’s possible repercussions, I did.
I’m not proud of this, and most of my sense of shame stems from the fact that I besmirched the name of the robotics club. Very little of it has anything to do with the lady I was arguing with, mainly because I feel that she deserved it. In fact, had she done a better job of being less condescending to me, and in general less confrontational, I probably would’ve left when she asked me. Still, this whole situation left me worse than she. After I flipped her off, I walked away and moved the box off of our field and into the spot I had suggested, on the border. two or three minutes later, I asked more calmly (since I had cooled down) if we could put it in that spot while we work, and move it over into our walkway when we left every night. She agreed that this would be ok – and thus the problem had a solution.
Despite this, my earlier action had repercussions. Shortly after the associate left for the night, Mr. Muench was down in our room, demanding that I walk down to the office with him. I complied and we walked half way across the school to the main office where he allowed me to tell him what happened. His original mood was very angry, but at the end of my story, he too had calmed down; I, at this point, was already very repentant of my action. We talked for about thirty minutes and discussed possible ways to fix the situation. During this I can honestly say that I gained more respect for him and I discovered that he cared for our group more than I originally thought. For this reason I was surprised when he said he was going to have to suspend me for that following Wednesday. I was pretty freaked out by this and I pleaded for another solution to the conflict, but the best he could offer was an in-school suspension, where I would be able to get my school work gathered from my teachers and even take a test I had for physics. The main difference would be that I would be in the office doing my work, and not in class. I took this option and as it turned out, that Wednesday was a half day and I did not get behind in my school work very much. The following day was the worst to anticipate because I assumed that my teachers would give me odd looks or possibly even question me about why I had a suspension, but no such thing happened. In fact, they said nothing at all and acted normal, which I loved. Everything went back to normal, and I’m hoping it says that way. There has been further discussion between Muench, Cheryl and Amy about the situation and I believe it is now solved.
I was expecting to, by now, have come up with a better title to this post, but I am still as lost for words as ever – so I think I’ll leave it. After all, it is true, and accurately describes my total disgust for the whole situation.