In the past I’ve mentioned some of the downsides as working as an MDSA and in today’s entry I’m going to do so again, but before I do, I’d like to say that I really loved being an MDSA. If you read my blog posts you might come away with something of a negative impression, but that’s only because entries that went something like “One day I picked up loads of rubbish and put it into a bag and I really loved it because I love most things” would probably not be of much interest to you.
    The leader of the MDSAs was a rather mean lady and I realised this on one of my first days. Every day, two MDSAs would clean the inside of the dinner hall and the third would go out onto the school field and pick up as much rubbish as they could. On one particularly rainy and gloomy day, I offered to go out and do the field and so I did. I got absolutely soaked and a few minutes after I came back in, our leader had something to say to me.
    “You’re so lazy! I haven’t seen you do anything in here all afternoon. Let me guess, you arrived really late? You need to take this job seriously and arrive on time or you won’t be staying here,” she said in her rather characteristic grumpy voice.
    “I’m not lazy,” I said in my defence, “I was out doing the-“
    “I don’t want to hear it!” she said, angry that I was answering back. “Take this and put it outside!”
    She shoved a large black bin bag into my hands and so, in order to avoid a pointless argument, I took it outside.
    But now, for perhaps the first time ever, let’s step out of my point of view and take a look at her rudeness towards the other MDSAs. My dear friend Rory was, for a while, one of the other MDSAs. Unlike me, Rory didn’t find the job to be really fun and lovely, instead he saw it as nothing more than another job and a source of money. Since it was quite boring for him, he would often bring along an MP3 player so that he could listen to music while cleaning up messes. But, our leader, she didn’t like that.
    One day, Rory was enjoying a nice piece of music as normal, and he went over to pick up a piece of rubbish she snuck up behind him. He had quite a shock a few moments later when his earphones were violently yanked out of his ears and he was rudely told “No earphones!” Poor old Rory.
    Of course, it was very nice to be working with Rory, and every now and then (during the few moments when the hall was litter free) I would go over to him and we’d have a brief chat. While doing this job, I also befriended a very nice student named Tonicha who would always call me over for a brief chat when she realised that I wasn’t really doing anything. Our leader did not like this at all and she would often shout at us to “Stop talking!” and get back to work. You might think that that sounds like a reasonable complaint, but the problem was that we’d always have the hall clean by the end anyway and that she was actually good friends with the third MDSA and would often stop her for a long chat! Even on very busy days.
    But, I think, at that point, I could just about live with it. She did kind of spoil what was otherwise a wonderful job, but some people are just a bit grumpy, I supposed. But before long, the straw which broke my camel’s back came along. A large group of children had been eating rather messily and, when they had finished, they left behind them a disarray of chairs and discarded pieces of food. I pulled a bin over and then just stood there getting all of the food and rubbish into the bin. Once that was done, I’d pop all the chairs neatly back to the sides.
    I had just about put all the rubbish away (there were one or two items left on the floor) when our leader came out once again to have a word with me.
    “Don’t just stand there!” she bellowed. “Put those chairs away.”
    “Oh yes, don’t worry,” I said, perfectly earnestly, “I was just putting all the rubbish away first.”
    She walked on past me, grabbed one of the chairs and hurled it at me. I jumped out of the way to avoid being hit.
    “I said ‘put the chairs away’!”
    It was at this point that I decided I would write a complaint to the people above about her rude attitude. I wrote it up that night, showed it to somebody (who was impressed by ‘how polite’ it was) and handed it in to the correct people. That was that, I thought. From now on, I hoped she would just be nicer.
    It seems that my plan didn’t go smoothly at all. The leader of the MDSAs had also held another position at the school and the day that she had been informed about my complaint, was the day which was her last with the other job. She had just been preparing for a nice little celebration to commemorate her time at the other position, when she got a message telling her about my complaint. I wasn’t there, but I’m told she just broke down in tears. I have to say that, when people are rude to you, it’s very easy to dehumanise them, and I believe that I had been doing that with her to an extent and when I heard how upset she’d been, I felt awful. Obviously, she had her reasons for acting rather meanly towards me and others, and while that may not have been justification enough, she probably had problems which made constant politeness hard. So, really, at that point I felt terribly sorry for her.
    We all had to have a discussion about it, and oddly Rory’s earphone thing was considered acceptable. But after that, we never had any problem from her again. Indeed, I can scarcely remember her talking to me at all after that unhappy experience was over.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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