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我母亲的格子围裙看起来像是金属盔甲

更新时间:2017-6-6 18:50:24 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Slowly, my mother’s gingham apron began to look more like metal armor.
我母亲的格子围裙看起来像是金属盔甲

TUCSON

图森

Caitlin McCormick

凯特琳·麦考密克(Caitlin McCormick)

When it comes to service workers, as a society we completely disregard the manners instilled in us as toddlers.

每当面对服务业从业者,我们这个社会上的人会完全无视自己年幼时被灌输的礼仪。

For seventeen years, I have awoken to those workers, to clinking silverware rolled in cloth and porcelain plates removed from the oven in preparation for breakfast service. I memorized the geometry of place mats slid on metal trays, coffee cups turned downward, dirtied cloth napkins disposed on dining tables.

过去17年里,我一醒来就会注意到这样的服务人员,注意到准备供应早餐期间裹在餐布里的叮当作响的餐具,以及从烤箱中取出的瓷盘。我会记得餐具垫被放在金属托盘里的形状、咖啡杯被倒扣以及弄脏了的布餐巾被撂在餐桌上的样子。

I knew never to wear pajamas outside in the public courtyard, and years of shushing from my mother informed me not to speak loudly in front of a guest room window. I grew up in the swaddled cacophony of morning chatter between tourists, professors, and videographers. I grew up conditioned in excessive politeness, fitted for making small talk with strangers.

我知道永远不要穿着睡衣走到外边的公共庭院里;我母亲年复一年发出的嘘声让我明白,不能在客房的窗前高声说话。我成长于游客、教授和摄像师晨间压低声音闲聊的嘈杂声中。在长大成人的过程中,我习惯了那种适用于与陌生人寒暄的过度礼貌。

I grew up in a bed and breakfast, in the sticky thickness of the hospitality industry. And for a very long time I hated it.

我是在一个提供住宿和早餐的客栈里,在有着厚重的酒店业氛围的环境里长大的。有很长一段时间我对此颇为憎恶。

I was late to my own fifth birthday party in the park because a guest arrived five hours late without apology. Following a weeklong stay in which someone specially requested her room be cleaned twice a day, not once did she leave a tip for housekeeping. Small-business scammers came for a stop at the inn several times. Guests stained sheets, clogged toilets, locked themselves out of their rooms, and then demanded a discount.

我曾经没能准时去公园参加自己的五岁生日派对,只因为一位客人迟到了五个小时,而且连声道歉都欠奉。某个人住店一周,专门要求其房间每天打扫两次,却没有留过一次整理房间的小费。诈骗小企业的人光顾过几回。客人把床单弄脏,把厕所弄堵,把自己锁在房间外,然后要求打折。

There exists between service workers and their customers an inherent imbalance of power: We meet sneers with apologies. At the end of their meal, or stay, or drink, we let patrons determine how much effort their server put into their job.

服务业从业者和客人之间存在天然的权力失衡:我们用道歉应对冷嘲热讽。我们让顾客在他们吃喝住宿之后自行决定,服务人员在提供服务上有多用心。

For most of my life I believed my parents were intense masochists for devoting their existences to the least thankful business I know: the very business that taught me how to discern imbalances of power. Soon I recognized this stem of injustice in all sorts of everyday interactions. I came to understand how latent racism, sexism, classism and ableism structure our society — how tipping was only a synonym for “microaggression.”

在生命的大部分时间里,我都觉得我父母是极端的受虐狂,他们把自己的一生献给了我所知的最不讨好的生意:也是教会我如何辨别权力失衡的生意。很快,我就在各种日常交往中注意到这种不公平。我开始明白,潜在的种族主义、性别歧视、阶级歧视和残障歧视如何充斥我们的社会——给小费如何只是“微歧视”的一个同义词。

I became passionate. Sometimes enraged. I stumbled upon nonprofits, foundations, and political campaigns. I canvassed for Senate candidates, phone-banked for grass-roots action groups, served as a board member for the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, reviewed grant applications for nonprofits and organized events for the nearby children’s hospital.

我变得狂热起来。有时还很愤怒。因为偶然的机缘,我加入了非营利组织、基金会和政治运动。我给参议员候选人拉票,给草根行动团体接听电话,担任南亚利桑那州女性基金会(Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona)的董事会成员,审核非营利组织的经费申请,还为附近的儿童医院组织活动。

I devoted my time to the raw grit of helping people, and in the process I fell irrevocably in love with a new type of service: public service. At the same time, I worked midnight Black Friday retail shifts and scraped vomit off linoleum. When I brought home my first W-2, I had never seen my parents so proud.

我把自己的时间投入到帮助别人的历练之中,在这个过程中,我义无反顾地爱上了一种新型的服务:公共服务。与此同时,我也做着黑色星期五的夜班零售工作,清理油毡毯上的呕吐物。当我把自己的第一份工资单拿回家时,从没见父母那么自豪过。

The truth, I recently learned, was that not all service is created equal. Seeing guests scream at my parents over a late airport taxi still sickens me even as I spend hours a week as a volunteer. But I was taught all work is noble, especially the work we do for others. Slowly, my mother’s gingham apron began to look more like metal armor. I learned how to worship my parents’ gift for attentive listening, easily hearing the things guests were incapable of asking for — not sugar with their tea, but somebody to talk with while they waited for a conference call. I envied their ability to wear the role of self-assured host like a second skin, capable of tolerating any type of cruelty with a smile.

我最近发现的事实是,并非所有的服务都是天生平等的。看到客人因为接机出租车迟到而对我的父母大叫大嚷,仍然让我感到厌恶,尽管我每周也会花数小时时间做志愿者。但我从中学到的是,所有的工作都是高贵的,尤其是我们为他人做的工作。慢慢地,我母亲的格子布围裙看起来也更像金属盔甲了。我知道了如何欣赏父母细心倾听的天赋,他们很容易就能明白客人没有准确提出的要求——不是给他们的茶里加糖,而是在他们等待一个电话会议时能有人跟他们聊天。我羡慕他们能那么自然地扮演胸有成竹的东道主角色,能带着微笑忍受各种恶言。

Most of all, I admired my parents’ continuous trust in humanity to not abuse their help. I realized that learning to serve people looks a lot like learning to trust them. 

最重要的是,我钦佩父母一直相信人性,相信人们不会对不起他们提供的帮助。我意识到,学习给人们提供服务和学会相信他们极其相似。

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