Many folks wanted to comment on Ditzy Doris, but we've settled on these three, which seem to cover most of the responses we saw.
- Okay, I'll take the test. In the salad bar scene, Doris was being a jerk. It's not her role on campus to correct the etiquette of every student who is impolite. She'd never have time for anything else. It sounds to me like she was annoyed by her day, took it out on some kids, and got called on it. So, yeah, she was a jerk at the salad bar. As for being called "darlin'," well that's a different matter. Women are routinely (and so casually) treated so poorly in the professional world, that I understand her pain there. I'm sure someone will say otherwise, but that man who used the condescending, limiting, and minimizing term for Doris is used to being deferred to, and Doris had every right to be brusque. I'd have turned my back on him and let him deal with the copier himself...he's the jerk in this scenario.
- I think students at a college or university would do well to see their superiors as their superiors wherever they see them. I'm not fond of all the military uniforms running around campus (are the Crosstown Rivals mounting a siege or something?) but the military offers an apt parallel: when the enlisted pass officers, in uniform, anywhere, it's "sir" or "ma'am." Students can tell most of the time when the person addressing them is a proffie--you address them as you would a student, respectfully, but authoritatively--and they should take the cue and reply accordingly. Why? Because it's a good skill to know. They could end up in your class, and you, being empowered to treat them, within broad boundaries, anyway you want, will use just a tiny bit of that encounter to inform your behavior. Later on, they might say something similar to the CFO--and they'll be fired, or passed over, or just gossiped about, because they don't know their place. Yeah, yeah--we've gotten passed all that, right? Well, when it comes to stuff between institutional equals like gender and race, we have. But when it comes to differences of power--real, legitimate power, based on knowledge and/or authority--students could learn a good lesson in identifying, respecting, and responding appropriately to it. If that jerk Barack is in line behind them, and they fart around, they'd better call him "Mr. President"; to do otherwise is just plain rude. P.S. You can call the president Ben or Rick or Mr. Hotpants if you want to, if he says, "call me Mr. Hotpants," but you, too, would do well not to lose sight of the fact that if he decides he doesn't like your face, you're back to writing posts about how much the job search sucks.
- Oh, the disrespect...oh the shame of it. I must tell you that there is so much handwringing in academe about what we're called and how we're treated. Seriously, is this what bugs people? Ditzy Doris surely has something more vital to worry about than if she is called a jerk when SHE COMPLETELY FUCKING ACTS LIKE A JERK. So, it's a kid who reveals this to you? So what. I'm 100% behind the notion that Doris is mad at the salad bar kid because down deep she knows she's a jerk. As for the old guy who called her "Darlin'." Please, get over yourself. That's a locution that in my experience is pretty harmless. Now if he did it with a leer and a bulge in his pants - which I'm pretty sure Ditzy Doris would have regaled us with - then it's something else. But I'm 100% behind the notion that it was just an older gentlemen actually trying to be courteous. I know it sounds strange to some, but I'm from Midwest and we used those terms there when I was a kid, too. I'd recommend that anyone who's on Dr. Ditzy's side on this one - because I wouldn't want to presume to call her Doris! - just relax a bit. What we're called shouldn't get in the way of what we really are.