Think before You Act

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This is a rant I have to get out of my system. Yesterday ,for possibly the first time in my life, I spoke before considering the consequences. It was the final straw in a situation that I had watched occurring over a period of months at my dancing class and increasingly the situation sent me home seething with anger. I knew what I should do. I should have removed myself from the situation but still I went. Not as frequently as I once did but still I went.

The situation – there are many of us that go to the class as single women, by that I mean without a partner with whom to dance. Usually there are enough men to leave only one or two without a partner and every so  often the teacher moves everyone around so everyone gets a turn. That is, all except one person who is consistently left without a man to dance with dance after dance after dance. I feel this acutely on her behalf. I also know that it upsets her. Numerous times I have said to the dance teacher “Jade has not had a partner for a long time.” Always he pointedly ignores me. This despite Jade paying her money the same as the rest of us. The dance teacher, who should be fair, simply will not dance with her.

Yesterday, Jade did not have a partner during the first dance at all. One of the men, noticing this, told her that he would dance the second dance with her. They walked onto the dance floor and the teacher’s assistant, Helga,  immediately said that Ross was to dance with someone else. Jade protested quietly. Helga retorted by yelling that it is not all about her and she is a selfish …… and so it went on. It was Helga’s screaming on the middle of the dance floor in full public view that caught my attention. It upset and I guess it also made me angry. At the time I said and did nothing but smarted away.

The male dance teacher asked me what I was looking so miserable about. I told him that I had been very upset by what had happened earlier and I was going to say something at afternoon tea. My plan at this point was to talk to everyone and say that we are all in the same boat and could we all work together to ensure that every girl got a fair go at having a partner, for that I believed was the root of the problem. This would not have happened had Jade been given a fair go.

I happened to sit out (as I didn’t have a partner) and Helga sat beside me. In private I decided to tell her how upset I was at her behaviour. She was not prepared to listen instead blaming Jade for being nasty to her. Our words became more heated as I pointed out that I watched week after week as Jade was left out. She was angry and I, still rational at this point was just upset. I decided to walk outside and leave it only to hear to my retreating back “Now look Jade. You’ve upset Irene.”

At afternoon tea Jade approached me. She was crying and asked if she could speak to me in private. We were in a middle of a conversation when Helga appeared and literally flew at both of us. It is the nearest to a fist fight I have ever been and now I was angry as I held her flailing arms in a strong lock. I won’t repeat the conversation – it was not pretty from Helga’s side and possibly not from mine either. Jade left the room in tears saying to her I don’t know what you have against me. I went out and said to her come on I’ll take you home we don’t have to take this.” I had a word to the male dance teacher before leaving (in private) and told him what I thought of his bad behaviour in not ensuring all his students were treated equally and that I wouldn’t be back. I didn’t need to be subjected to this kind of nastiness.

Unfortunately I had to go back in to collect my bag and Helga let forth another barrage of abuse. This time I reacted and I wish I hadn’t. Not for myself but for Jade. Jade loved coming dancing. Without her own car, this class was one that she could reach by public transport. She was upset by her treatment but her love of dance kept her coming. Now I have wrecked that for her. By seeing a wrong and stepping in I have created a situation that Helga will not forget. Jade will be treated even worse in the future if she were to go and if she had been that worried about the way she was being treated she could have taken up her cause herself.

I know what I should have done. I could have dealt with the situation very differently by leaving earlier and then in the cool light of day just spoken to the male dance teacher (the principal) and said my piece. I would still not attend but at least I would not have adversely affected someone else’s life.

This kind of incident makes me realise how easily peace can be broken. How lines can be drawn in the sand that neither side can retreat from without losing face and negotiations for peace become incredibly difficult to commence. Take a breath and leave and return when tempers are no longer flaring, when the upset has lessened. When you are again thinking rationally. If we can’t do it as individuals how can we expect nations to do it. It has to start from the self. I know that, I just wish I had done it.

 

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. Commenced a masters by research in 2014.
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27 Responses to Think before You Act

  1. Dahlia says:

    Ahh Irene I do feel for you – been there done that 😦 Often my well meaning efforts to ‘help’ has backfired. It is only lately, I have realized that one cannot really ‘help’ another person – the person being victimized and sidelines has to take a stand – nothing else really works or is at best a temporary stop gap solution.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. MimiTa says:

    I also speak before I think, and I think that we all do this, so I believe that you don’t need beat yourself up too much….especially because when I have something I must say, if I don’t say it, it will keep festering within me and I’ll feel guilty as this feeling gnaws away at me haha. I think that if you didn’t stand up for her, you may have some regrets, too~
    I believe that as long as you’ve cheered up Jade at least a bit, it all counts, especially since she now knows that she has someone on her side who cares about her and loves her and all 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s a really tough place to be in. That was grossly unprofessional behaviour on the teacher’s account. You just don’t do that. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  4. TanGental says:

    Well if you see injustice you are doing well to speak out though frankly the petty little Hitlers who run that class deserve to go out of business. Not nice

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Geoff. Apparently the other two women dancers (who can dance) also walked out after I did in support. I didn’t know that at the time and it wasn’t my intention to endanger his business as it does bring a lot of joy to people but perhaps in the future he will lift his game and act professionally.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Norah says:

    I think you did right to stand up for Jade. I understand that you feel bad, but you probably handled the situation better than many would. Hopefully your stance will cause others to think, and act differently. The teacher, and Helga, were both at fault. I agree with Geoff. It would be a good thing if everyone objected. Maybe others less empathetic hadn’t noticed Jade’s plight before. Perhaps you alerted them to it. We can’t always be rational, not matter how much we know we should, but we can’t be responsible for the irrational responses of others either.
    I applaud your taking a stand.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have since had a number of phone calls. An apology from the male principal. Helga remains silent. He told me that I had hit the nail on the head when I took him aside privately and told him he was responsible. Said he had been feeling guilty for a long time but then why didn’t he do anything to rectify it. He also told me that the only other two accomplished women dancers left after I left and I have had two phone calls from other women, who weren’t there on Sunday, aplogising that they had not said anything and just let it go. Perhaps it will have a positive outcome in the long run – if not for Jade but for future dancers that he teachers. Without a change of attitude from Helga I doubt that Jade can return. Thanks for your support.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        There. It takes one brave person to make a stand and others, who were too scared to do it alone, come out in support. You did well. 🙂

        Like

  6. You stood up against injustice, Irene, and I commend you for that. The behavior of the dance teacher and the person you call ‘Helga’ is universal—some people just like to have a scapegoat, and it appears that Jade was it. So sorry you went through this, but you should feel proud that you stood up and said your piece. Too many people (women especially) are too quiet about unfair behavior they see.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Diane. I am starting to feel as though it was the right thing to do. I agree people like Helga pick on those that can’t defend themselves and it is unacceptable behaviour. I have had a number of phone calls including one from the male principal where he apologised and took the blame on the shoulders for what had happened. He said it was good it was out in the open as it was a matter that needed discussing.Perhaps I have been the catalyst for change that may be positive into the future but sadly without a change of attitude from Helga I think Jade will not benefit. Thanks for your support.

      Like

  7. What a terrible and sad situation. You are not to blame for behaving ethically. The whole class has been bullying Jade and you are the only person who stood up for her. Poor woman, to be so ignored.
    Shame on the teacher, shame on Helga for her grandstanding, shame on all the rest of the class, men and women, who stood around and pretended that Jade didn’t exist. Who pretended that she didn’t feel hurt at being so left out, who danced past her and chose not to see her, who ignored her pain and her brave determination to return class after class, hoping to be included.
    You did not make the scene you think you did – the entire rest of the class did. This class chose to create an elephant in the room. Everyone of them participated willingly. Shame, shame on all of them.
    It is not noble to protect the cretins, it is noble to protect the one who is bullied.
    You know what else I really like about your post? You didn’t give us “reasons” that Jade was so humiliated week after week, you didn’t tell us Helga’s position. Because frankly there is no excuse for such behavior. Had not the entire class participated so willing in this, I would agree that it would have been better for you to have found a more private way of addressing this social injustice. But the entire class needs to look in their mirror and see themselves for who they are: a bunch of self-righteous snobs.
    Good for you, Irene, good for you. You did the right thing and you did it the right way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Sharon. I had not thought of it as bullying but of course that is exactly what it is and by standing by silently we were all condoning it. The dance principal has since rung and apologised for his behaviour in causing this situation. Helga has remained silent. The dance teacher also told me that a couple of the other women in the class departed after I did (whether in support or disgust I don’t know) which I take as support. I’ve also had a couple of phone calls from people who weren’t there on Sunday apologising that they had not taken action themselves as they too had noticed. So perhaps it is going to have a good outcome for future students though possibly not for Jade.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah. Well. I can’t say “shame on you, Irene” because, as awful as you feel and as smart as you are knowing how you should politely handle a situation, it seems this was the right thing to do. I understand it backfired on top of everything and I’m sorry for that but, as others have said, you saw an injustice and spoke up. Or shouted. Whatever. ❤ I would have reacted the same way. Perhaps worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sarah. You are of course right. On the day I went from anger to the next day (when I wrote this) regret and now two days later I see that it was the right thing to do and in light of a few phone calls will perhaps prevent a similar situation happening in the future. Too late for Jade and myself but treatment of people like this cannot be condoned. Wish you’d been there with me. Good to have the support.

      Like

  9. Christina B says:

    I would have done exactly the same, Irene, if not sooner (and made things even worse). I find it very hard to bite my tongue when I see injustice. The problem is that you had to deal with someone who point blank refused to admit that they were wrong and if there is no basis for negotiation things will never end well. Add to that the fact that this person then reacted childishly and irrationally, bullying the poor innocent person even more. Life is tricky like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your support Christina. Given another day of reflection I believe it was the right thing to do. Treatment of people like this can’t be tolerated and although I had on numerous occasions in the past pointed out that Jade had not been given a partner I did not address the problem as head on as I should have, perhaps preventing this from happening. Silence is just condoning poor behaviour. I have since had an apology from the male dance teacher (not Helga) but what would make me really happy would be to hear that he had also rung Jade and apologised to her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christina B says:

        It’s always hard to know when to say something. We act in good faith doing what we believe is right at the time. I hope they apologise to Jade as well (and that Helga gets told to watch her behaviour). That sort of behaviour by an adult is quite shocking. Rest assured that others will feel the same way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some will feel the same way — others may just consider how it affects themselves. Either way hopefully into the future there will be an improvement on the part of the dance teacher.

        Liked by 1 person

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