Is the Whole World Stupid?
The Department of Labor mailed me a job posting for an internship with the American Museum of Natural History, which sounded perfect for my background (which is why they matched me to it), but it’s 25 hours a week, requires only a diploma, and had no stated salary. Since they used postal mail, by the time the letter got to me, the link to apply was no good as it was. The Department of Labor worker admitted to me that she thought that it was probably unpaid but that they wanted me to apply for it anyway, even though I’ll be 37 next month and last attended college in May 2005.
I love AMNH, and for several years made a visit there a birthday present to myself, so I don’t want to accuse them of anything illegal. The workload for this internship was unquestionably illegal if it is unpaid, but since the ad didn’t actually say it was unpaid, I have no grounds to actually accuse them. Here is a link with information about the federal legal requirements of an unpaid internship: http://www.mills.edu/student_services/career_center/internship_compliance.pdf
Yesterday, when my time was up on the computer at the Mid-Manhattan Library, I limped over to unplug my phone, went back to my chair, put my backpack on it, rolled the cord around the charger and put it in, and started putting my coat on. The woman who was next in line for the computer came forward and said in a very obnoxious tone, “Here, let me help you with that!” She grabbed my bag and carelessly threw it on the floor. I was concerned it might have impacted on my pitch pipe (fortunately, it didn’t), and I said very loudly, “Oh, that was real helpful, bitch! What the fuck is wrong with you, throwing other people’s belongings?” The security guard, a medium-sized black man with a bushy white beard came over to the computer and took her side. I asked why he let her get away with throwing other people’s stuff. He didn’t answer, and told me I’d be barred from the library if I used another vulgarity. I’m kind of glad he intervened, because I might have smacked this young woman with my cane if the situation had been allowed to intensify further. I couldn’t stop thinking about Up afterwards, in which the inciting incident is Ed Asner striking George Wendt with his cane after the latter damages a mailbox with enormous sentimental value, bearing as it does both his hand prints and those of his late wife.
In my concept of feminism, if a woman, particularly a young woman, instigates a fight with a man, the man has every right to fight back. Smacking her with the cane would be kind of excessive and emotion-driven, though. I also think of the shoving fight in Robert Altman’s A Perfect Couple, in which the civilized men who are mad at each other don’t really want to get in a fight, and keep it restrained to shoving. If a woman were to punch me, for example, she is implying that she knows martial arts and is assuming entering a fair fight, which it probably wouldn’t be, given that I’m physically impaired. It’s true that she didn’t touch me, but throwing someone else’s belongings is never appropriate and should, at minimum, have gotten her computer privileges suspended for the day.