Thursday, April 24, 2008

michael5000 gets trained

I: The Ride

I meet my carpool in the Trader Joes parking lot so we can go to a training out in the burbclaves. As we merge into traffic, we get dramatically cut off by a minivan sliding casually right into the lane that we are already occupying, thank you very much, but thanks to my crys of "Oh! Look! There! Hey! Oh!" disaster is averted.

"Look at that," says my coworker, knowingly. "It's an Asian driver."

"Um, a what?" I ask, regaining my composure.

"Asian driver," she says. "They are the worst." I laugh uncomfortably. "It's true!" she says.

Later, on the freeway, we get stuck behind a car that is inexplicably driving at about 45 miles per hour. My coworker is frustrated. "Maybe it's one of those Asian drivers," I tease her, but she takes me seriously. "Yeah!" she says. "It could be!"

After a while the road clears a bit, and we get a chance to blow by the slowpoke. My coworker cranes her neck to get a good look at the perpetrator. "It is!" she shouts, delighted. "It's an old Asian lady! Look at her, she's driving like this!" She exagerates the posture of an overcautious, intimidated driver. She is laughing uproariously.

My coworker, by the way, is a highly successful social worker and former small businessperson with children in college and medical school. Oh, and she's Vietnamese.

II: The Training

It was in a splendidly bland cubicle farm, and conducted by the numbers. We introduced ourselves, said where we worked, and identified our favorite ice cream flavors. The trainer told us what he was gong to tell us, he told us, and then he told us what he had told us. Questions were encouraged, even though the answer was always "we'll get to that in a few minutes."

The second-best moment was when, after I cheerfully mentioned that a big knot of acronyms "look kind of mysterious," the trainer actually chastised me. Well, you SHOULD know about that," he scolded, radiating indignation. "It's part of your JOB." The intended reaction of guilt and shame never really kicked in, though, since he had made an unwarrented and quite incorrect assumption about what my job actually is. Those acronyms have nothing to do with my job. I just smiled. (He later figured out his mistake and apologized.)

The best moment was when he referred, without the tiniest glimmer of irony, to (and I quote) "repetitious, repeating, repetitious work that you do over and over and over again." Fortunately, I was able to disguise my snort as a professional-sounding cough. I'm all about the professionalism.


Rebel said...

So a friend has told me about her friend - a Korean guy who proudly shares very specific racial stereotypes of all Asian people, especially North Chinese women. Apparently he thinks it's okay since you know, he's Asian too.

But you know what they say in Avenue Q - Everyone's a little bit racist!

Anonymous said...

Nice. Short, brief, and concise.

Tereza said...

A training full of mysterious acronyms and someone who tells you what s/he will tell you, tells you, and then tells you what s/he has told you sounds so familiar. I think I've been to a hundred of these. Always great if you have someone next to you who doesn't mind being elbow poked hard in the side and is equally skilled at disguising a "snort as a professional-sounding cough," as you humorously put it. Sounds like a fun day, ride, meeting and all.

d said...

i'm so glad i don't have a full-time gig any longer.

The Calico Cat said...

According to my grandmother the worst drivers are "old men in hats." All types therein included.

Kritkrat said...

Do you know how much trainers get paid?! That's what I think about when I am at a training and it drives me bonkers.

Anonymous said...

@calico / Always thought the worst were young men in hats. Worn backwards.

fingerstothebone said...

I figured your carpool partner was Asian. You might've said 'it takes one to know one?' But, you do know that lots of stereotypes have some truths in them, right? Except that I am an excellent driver myself, of course.

I haven't noticed that other Asian are any worse than other non-Asian drivers, but it's probably because I'm too cautious to be looking around at who the other drivers are. The Good Prince does a fine imitation of MY posture and look of concentration while behind the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Mistaken indignation radiation. Played nicely here both times in a way. Nice vignettes!