JennyMac at Let's Have a Cocktail yesterday published a post about the F-Bomb. She mention a study that claims the use of profanity helps reduce pain. I wish I'd had that information at my finger tips, years ago when I went back to teaching after spending a year selling life insurance.
Back in 1980, life insurance sales was a male dominated field; when I went through training, there were only two of us females in a class of 100 students. There was so much testosterone in that room, you could have sprouted hair on your chest just by deep breathing for a period of time. I was part of a southern Maine insurance company sales force comprised of 12 men, 2 women, and 2 male sales managers. The men in the group were not particularly happy about having women on the team, and made it clear to us that they were not making any changes to the way they conducted themselves just because of a couple of 'skirts' being present.
(Bear in mind that these were the early days of the Sexual Harassment Law. Precedents were just beginning to be established, and here in Maine, I don't think anyone had ever heard of such a thing being a legal issue. In fact, I was a divorcee at the time and was actually asked in my employment interview if I was using any type of birth control! Today, an employer could be carted off to jail for such a thing, but back then, both employers and employees were uninformed of the Law.)
The men were used to using "colorful" language in their daily conversations in the office, and were not about to clean it up because two women had seen fit to invade their macho Mecca. Whether it was guilt by association, or an effort to be accepted and fit in, or a combination of the two, after a while, I found my own speech beginning to acquire some of the local color. Hey--I'm not proud of it, but when in Rome, ya' know.
A year later, when the insurance company and I had parted ways, I had an opportunity to go back to teaching. (I would have done it sooner, but at the time I had to re-enter the workforce full-time, there were no teaching positions available.) I was glad to get back to the classroom, which was what I had trained to do in college. I lived about a 35-minute drive from the town where I was teaching, and soon was car-pooling with one of my collegues each day. She and I became pretty good friends , joked around, and had lots of laughs during our twice daily commute.
One morning we were in the faculty lounge prior to the days classes starting; the teachers gathered there before school, during lunch, and after school to make conversation, seek help from each other, etc. My car-pool buddy Joan (names are changed in this tale to protect the guilty!) was seated at a table reading the newspaper. There were several faculty in the room; some having coffee, and some just chatting. I was seated next to Joan. An item in the newspaper caught my attention, and I leaned towards Joan so I could read it. After just a moment or two, Joan turned to me and snapped, "I bought this paper, and I'd like to read it in peace, if you don't mind!"
"Well, EXCUUUUUSE me, " I replied, knowing that Joan was just kidding with me. The others in the room did not know Joan as well as I, and there were a few raised eyebrows here and there. About 10 minutes later, Joan handed me the newpaper.
"You want to read the paper, here you go!"
"You can keep your F**ing paper, I don't want it " I growled back at her.
All of a sudden you could have heard a pin drop in the room. Eyebrows were raised, and jaws were dropped. Little did I know, no one had EVER dropped the F-Bomb in the faculty lounge prior to that day! After an awkward silence, during which goody two shoes, Miss Beasley, stood at the mimeograph machine in total shock, while her panty hose rolled down to her ankles and back up to her waist a few times in 'sheer' disbelief.
Finally, conversation and the mimeographing resumed, and I was inwardly chuckling at the exaggerated response to my grand faux pas. Surely, this crowd couldn't be THAT proper!
Later in the day, a letter appeared in my box in the teachers" mail room. My heart sank as I read:
Dear Mrs. Gallant:
It has been brought to the attention of the Faculty Ethics Committee that you have been guilty of using profanity in the Faculty Lounge. This type of behaviour will not be tolerated.
As this is your offense premiere, no punitive action will be undertaken at this time. However, you should be some f**king glad that John Stevens is the Chairperson of the Faculty Ethics Committee.
John Stevens, Chairperson
Faculty Ethics Committee
Noname High School.
John (name also changed to protect the guilty) was a major prankster and was just pulling my chain! I totally cracked up, although for a minute there, he had me worried!
I did make an effort after that to not drop an F-Bomb in there unless it was totally warranted!