Message for the Hard of Thinking

Teachers do more than teach! Jay-sus. We can say it over and over, we can make parody videos, we can make instructional videos, we can teach your children, we can speak to you at parties.

But what it keeps coming down to is:- “I think teachers are lazy because the government has done a divide and conquer maneuver and I am not going to bother my arse to think critically about it.”

“Teachers only teach 20 hours a week” is interpreted as “Teachers work half the hours of a full time job”.

Don’t look at 20 hour teaching a week and think “Maybe teachers have other responsibilities on top.”

Don’t look at that and think “WHY exactly is the government releasing this information, they must have agreed to these conditions in the past, how were they justified at that time?”

Don’t look at that and think “Teaching must be quite a difficult job, what with you trying to get lots of new information and skills over to groups of individuals with poor impulse control who are going through momentous changes and exhausting growth spurts”

Don’t do it. That would require empathy and understanding, why bother? Just be what the government wants you to be. Be suspicious. Be mean spirited.

Think “Teachers! The ONLY thing they do is teach! How hard can that be?”

When I was a teen, the government of the UK was pulling the “teachers are lazy jerks who are wasting all this tax on being useless layabouts,” trick. This was so they could push through money-saving wheezes. The result now is that teachers are working beyond capacity, are disrespected by both students and parents and most new teachers do not make it past five years.

If it were such an easy job, surely people would be queuing up around the block and staying in the job for decades.

The result of making the population turn on teachers for being lazy is not, and I know this will come as a surprise, improved lesson quality. Denmark is embarking on a long donkey ride to hell right now.

In the UK (and indeed in Denmark), teachers are expected to know:-

  • who has learning difficulties
  • who is in care
  • who is a refugee
  • who has parents who abuse drugs or alcohol
  • who speaks English as a second language
  • who is being abused
  • who is underachieving
  • who has no friends
  • who is a bully
  • who is being bullied
  • who cannot read
  • who cannot do maths
  • who is pretending to have difficulties learning, so they can be lazy
  • who gets the other students to be naughty, without getting caught themselves
  • who has mental health issues
  • who should be wearing glasses really
  • who must sit at the front
  • who must not sit next to whom
  • who probably has not had breakfast and won’t get dinner
  • what “level” the child is working at, what level they should be working at and what level I hope for them to achieve in the year with me
  • which class they are in and who their other teachers are
  • what their family/cultural/religious background is
  • who has allergies

When I worked in the UK, my class size was around 29. My highest class size was 35 and my lowest was 10. (Both of those outliers were special needs groups) I had at least six groups. That is approximately 180 students that I had to know at that level of detail. Not to mention the children I did not personally teach but had to know at least a little bit, in order to get along with them/anticipate issues while on break duty/covering lessons for absent colleagues.

If I told you that you had to learn 180 full names of people you get to see maybe two-three times a week, I think you might tell me I was being unreasonable. And that is just their name.  How hard is it to learn 180 names? It takes me around two weeks.

This is while being expected to be able to:-

  • choose activities which are the right level for each member of their class
  • choose activities which require more active input from the students
  • assess the progress on a regular (weekly to fortnightly), basis of every member of the class
  • have deep, specialist subject knowledge
  • choose a variety of methods of teaching and assessing and rotate these methods frequently
  • explain key concepts in simple terms
  • ask questions that test more than recall
  • recognise correct answers they were not expecting
  • get along with children who have challenging behaviour (often due to shocking background circumstances)
  • understand how the learning of new facts and new skills takes place in the human brain
  • know how to grab the interest of people who may have rock bottom self-confidence
  • recognise when something new has been learned and when something needs to be re-addressed
  • present uninteresting content in an interesting way
  • communicate with home about behaviour and progress
  • communicate with social services about concerns
  • recognise when home must NOT be communicated with about behaviour because that would result in a dangerous situation for the child
  • persuade bullies to stop (after noticing they are bullying)
  • reassure victims that it is not their fault if they are bullied
  • encourage a child with learning difficulties to give something new a try
  • keep up with current youth culture, so you can relate new concepts to things they already know

Don’t get me wrong. It is an honour to do this. I love doing this. It is exciting and interesting and exactly what I want to be doing. But it is not, by any means, “easy”. I do not stride into a classroom, say “Turn to page 33 and complete the exercises” and then go stick my thumb up my arse, is what I am trying to say.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I have to

  • manage resources
  • prepare teaching aids
  • select books
  • practice activities
  • research new ideas
  • keep up to date with the subject
  • coordinate with colleagues
  • keep teaching assistants informed
  • become familiar with new curricula and assessments every new government regime
  • write long form reports
  • meet with parents
  • grade assignments and tests
  • regularly grade homework
  • ensure safety at break times
  • email students who have questions outside of school time
  • maintain my teaching blog, to keep my students informed about my lessons and homework
  • run afterschool clubs

This takes time. You cannot expect me to show up at 8am and teach until 4pm Monday to Friday AND do all that other stuff on top. Not if you are only paying me for eight hour days. Pay me overtime for the hours all that takes and we can talk.

Often, it is at this time that someone brings up the “holiday” issue. We are NOT paid for all our holidays, any more than you are paid for the weekends. Our pay is spread out over the year to help our employers out. If we were paid our hourly rate over the holidays, we would be rich indeed. The holidays are “for” the children more than anything and we use them for our preparation and assessment.

People with no imagination who are not teachers imagine that we did our degree and then just rock up to the class and tell the kids about the American Civil War for 40 minutes off the tops of our heads and then go home gleefully dancing with joy for tricking the taxpayer into paying us to do such an easy task.

The government knows that what we do is more complicated, more difficult and requires more hours on top than mere “lecturing” but they encourage you in your delusions, so that they can make it easy to reduce our preparation time. You do not think that surgeons are lazy because they only spend a few hours in the theatre. You don’t think soldiers are lazy because they only spend a few hours a day shooting at people. You don’t think YOU are lazy because you do other things than your main responsibilities during the working day.

They play on your long standing deep seated issues with one or two shit teachers you had back in the day. I also had several really shit teachers. You have to let it go. You are a grown ass adult. Let it go. I am not your goddamned 1st year French teacher. We are not collectively responsible for the crap lessons you had in trigonometry. Let it go. Live in the now.

A reduction in time to do other things than simply teach will necessarily mean a reduction in quality of teaching. And shame on you for falling for it, Denmark.

Support from the Danish Defence

Why are the Danes in Afghanistan? If you ask the Danish Defence, it is to make Afghanistan a better place. To help the Afghans. Whatever. Danish soldiers are expected to put themselves at risk and put their personal lives on hold for three months to half a year, for the political ambitions of a country that is most often taken for Holland.

This sacrifice is rewarded with a small stripe of cloth they can wear on their uniform, double pay while deployed and this year, a designer table side flag pole. Which each soldier must transport back to Denmark, within the baggage allowances set by the Defence.

What do the families get? There is a badly designed website called The Soldiers Portal, there are three Saturday afternoon lectures (one before deployment, one at half way during leave and one shortly before re-deployment), there is a 24 hour helpline to which, if you were to ring them outside of Danish office hours (8-4), set you up for an appointment in Copenhagen to see if you need psychological help. There is an online helpline, to which, if you (for example), say something like “And there’s the not-small-consideration that I am foreign in Denmark. Occasionally, at random, not every time, people are completely awful to me.” they will reply “You also have problems with falling in and adapting to the Danish society.” My cringing muscles are extra strong after my four and a half years here. There is a family network run by volunteers. I have no idea what goes on there, so I cannot speak to its quality.

This is what the relatives’ website has to say about re-deployment (which apparently means when a soldier comes back and not when they are sent out again)

“The day the soldier comes home is an event that you both have definitely counted down until and waited for with anticipation and longing. Home-coming and the time after is exciting, where the feelings of missing him are over and plans and dreams (big and small), can be realised. It’s a time of great expectations and hopes of what is possible now or can finally happen. Home coming can stretch out for up to a year before the everyday goes back to normal, for good or ill.

For some, it goes very quickly while for others it takes longer. It is one thing to be purely physically reunited, something else is to share the many experiences you each have had while you were separated. It takes time to find each other again and make your day to day lives good again together.

What you come back to, is to a high degree a question of what you left. Neither those left behind nor the soldier become different people during a deployment and earlier problems don’t automatically disappear.

Having said that, there are many who experience that deployment and separation actually teaches them so many new things about themselves, their partner, children, friends, siblings, parents, country and world that you can find yourself in a new place after a deployment. And from this new place, you get the opportunity to take stock, put things behind yourself and get new opportunities and find each other again. Either in the “good old way” or in a new way.”

Ok. So, we’re talking half a side of A4, of not very illuminating “it’s going to be a process. Boning is involved.”.

What do the other countries offer? The American army which has longer deployments and more frequently, seems to be a bit more on the ball. Plus there are many other websites which cater for families.

Military.com has this step-by-step his and hers guide to how to get through the process, an overview of the emotions experienced. Information about how all the emotions I am experiencing, completely not addressed in the Danish guide, are normalHomecoming tips. I actually could do this all day, that is just the information on Military.com There are also tips and information and support on thousands of other English language websites, just type “homecoming spouses”. (I cannot even find the British stuff there is so much American information. I found one thing which gives you an age by age breakdown of how deployment affects children.)

If you type “hjemkomst pårørende” you get the page I just translated and some information about some parades.

The American spouses are getting a heads up. “This shit is about to get real.” The soldiers are getting a heads up “She’s probably more fucked up than you, yo. And she ran your household on her own, backwards and in high heels.”

I told my boyfriend that I was nervous and he said that was “weird”. Because he has no idea that actually, that is very very normal. The army took the wives aside to tell them what PTSD looks like but they did not take the soldiers aside to tell them that we might be suffering? What total bullshit employers they turned out to be.

He is back in two days.

 

The State of Feminism in the State of Denmark

Many British feminists have watched Danish Sunday night drama serials and decided that Denmark is the place for them.

Lund goes around fighting crime in flat shoes and thick knitwear, she never says “Ooooh, I shouldn’t,” in response to being offered a biscuit, men never repeat her jokes to greater laughter. Nyborg is prime minister of an entire country and no one says “Are you sure that is your colour?”, she never turns to her female colleagues and calls them ‘good’ for riding their bike.

The thing to bear in mind about these shows are they are fiction, British feminists. You already knew that. I am not trying to she-mansplain or anything. But they really are fiction. They are a cross between aspirational fiction and the sort of fiction we tell about the way things are right now that is coloured by our delusions. West Wing is a good example of that genre of fiction. What the fans back home would love to be true and almost is.

Lund is a cautionary tale. Meyer’s kids do not hate him for being a policeman at the top of the first season. Lund’s kid sort of does. Meyer’s wife is very much in love with him until the bitter end. Lund’s boyfriend chucks her in.

But let’s talk Borgen. When the first season of Borgen came out the prime minister was a guy called Lars Løkke Rasmussen. This is a video of him disgracing himself at the Conference of Parties December 2009 for climate change. (Connie Hedegaard (a lady), had been running ting in a very efficient and admirable way. He replaced her half way through the conference to everyone’s shock and dismay. And he did not know what he was doing.)  

This is a picture of his cabinet before the election.

Is yours a white person?
Is yours a white person?

Seven ladies and eleven chaps. Today it stands at 11 ladies, 12 chaps. So maybe aspiration works? What you need to know is that this has been a bit controversial.

Some Danish people will talk about how men are just naturally better at being in power and taking decisions and that having a gender balance just for shits and giggles can be harmful because you won’t get the right person for the job if you employ someone just so you have an equal number of men and women on board. (As opposed to the situation where only men are appointed just because. Obviously, the best person for the position is secured in that model*)

The current prime minister is a woman. Her name is Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Her father in law is Neil Kinnock, no joke. What you need to know about Helle is that there is a dirty tricks campaign to oust her from power. The campaign is working, she will not last long. The rumour is that she and her husband have been cheating on their taxes. This is because her husband works abroad and does not pay tax in Denmark (or only some tax in Denmark or something like that, not clear on the details. The rumours say they are liable to pay more tax, anyway) He was smeared in the press recently for being a gay. The rumour is that he is a gay, she is a beard and they have a marriage of convenience so he can look straight and she can look loveable. These rumours look like they will work and she will lose power.

Meanwhile, the rumours about Lars Løkke, that he is a drunk, never came to anything. Where, to my mind, having a drunk as a prime minister is hundreds of times worse than being a beard to a tax dodger. And these bloody rumours are probably not even true. In my opinion, Løkke was a crap prime minister, he staggered from incompetent situation to mismanaged scandal for several years. Thorning-Schmidt is doing a swell job, nothing special or amazing but still nothing terrible. She is someone I would not have a problem having a cup of tea with. She seems quite nice, in a way Løkke never did. (I don’t agree with either of their politics)

The guy before Løkke, Anders Føgh Rasmussen, his rumours were about cross dressing and rightly that was not a scandal because it does not matter at all. Completely inconsequential. But being married to a gay apparently is across the line? How are they even different accusations?

And the guy before him, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen just admitted to doping on cycling races.* Is anything sacred?

Let’s forget about politics for a minute and turn to day-to-day life for women. If you are a teenaged girl, you are likely to be called a “luder” (whore), at some point. That is the go-to cuss for girls. The go-to cuss for boys is “røvhul” (asshole) Girls have a lot of pressure on them to be smart and also hot. If they are too hot, they get called sluts. If you are a little girl, you will be encouraged to be pink obsessed. Barbies, make up dolls, pink toys, princess dresses… It is the same shit you get back in the UK.

Sexual violence is pretty high here, prosecutions low, punishments weak and Amnesty Goddamned International has criticised Denmark for its poor treatment of sex crime victims.

Prostitution is legal, pimping is illegal but unlike the Norwegians (and I think the Swedes??), being a john is legal. This means there are a lot of abused, trafficked, exploited sex workers out there. In Norway, where it is not illegal to sell sex but it is illegal to buy sex, serious violent crime has gone down. In Denmark, it is still a problem. The Danish police did an advertising campaign to warn johns that there was a high chance that the prostitute they were visiting was trafficked and the employment of prostitutes went up. Because that’s the point of employing a sex worker for the majority who do that sort of thing.

The age of consent is 15 and there is no protection for girls of that age with “boyfriends” in their late 30s. (nor the rarer converse)

Domestic violence is quite common. (though, I am not sure how it compares with other similar countries)

 

Daycare is well funded by taxes. Daycare workers are well trained, well respected and reasonably well paid. And yet, being a Stay At Home mum or dad is frowned upon. The vast majority of people put their infants in daycare. Even if they are not employed. It is difficult practically to be a stay at home parent because no one else is doing it, so you do not get any adult company. Health care visitors, mother in laws and busybodies will tell you that you are doing it wrong.

Now, if you want to work after having children, all the more power to your elbow, you go girl (etc etc). But if you do not, how is it a “choice” to have to because everyone else does? This goes equally for men as it does women.

Childcare is undervalued, paid work is the only thing that is respected.

Meanwhile, and hardly anyone talks about this, meanwhile the daycare centres are understaffed, the childminders are depressed and children become neglected emotionally. Intimacy is not encouraged. I have heard Danish people remark that it is good for their infant to be brought up by someone that does not love them.

You see, women’s rights haven’t won this battle. Mothering is still despised, is still regarded as shameful. They just obliterated the role. Everyone is a “dad” now. As in a 1950s, behind his newspaper, gets you a bag of sweets at the weekend because he didn’t get to see you all week, sort of dad. If women’s rights had “won”, you would see a lot more part time work for both genders or government stipends for staying home.

Childcare is seen as something that needs to be done in large batches so that everyone can pay full tax. And not an important part of society that is critical to get right. Why else are there such high child-staff ratios in institutions? Why are two year old left to get attacked by four year olds by these well qualified, well respected, reasonably well paid experts? It’s a “women’s” issue, that’s why. Anyone can do it! You can raise six infants simultaneously no problems because it is easy. You don’t need that many daycare workers, for heaven’s sakes. Women’s work is just as undervalued as it is in Britain, it has just been outsourced as the solution, rather than its profile being deliberately raised.

Why else is the reality show Young Mothers not called Young Parents?

Women are not afforded full rights to religious expression. If they wear hijab, they are not allowed to work in certain shops, be spokespeople, have jobs other than cleaner. And then the Danes have the balls the wall brass necks to claim that these women cannot work because they are downtrodden by “their” men.

Ugh.

 

Let’s talk about the positive for a bloody change.

On the positive side, casual sexual harassment is low. I have been catcalled twice in the four years I have been here. Compare/contrast with the four times a week back home. I am not required to appear feminine. I can wear what I want without any comment. I rarely put on makeup and that is fine because no one else seems to either. I can wear flat shoes, no problems. The opposite can be a problem, if you wear revealing clothes and high heels, people will talk about you behind your back and say you work as a prostitute. That is interesting, isn’t it!

My body is not public property, no one tells me what to eat or that I am “good” for the amount of exercise I do.

Compliments are rare but always heartfelt.

Work life balance is pretty good. People finish work earlier in Denmark than elsewhere in Europe. Presenteeism is not a thing. People do their job and go home. Holidays are plentiful and well respected. So, it is a pretty good quality of life. If you do not want to be a stay-at-home mother or are thinking about you and your partner going part-time after the kids. Or if you do not want children at all.

As long as you don’t get raped or trafficked, your life as a woman in Denmark can be pretty good*. BUT. This only goes for Danish women.

If you are a foreign woman, all bets are off. I have been readily patronised and dismissed out of hand just because I speak Danish with an accent. I dread to think what will become of me if I have children here. If I had to deal with the borough, maybe because I needed support during unemployment or because I had a baby, I might find that I get a completely different experience than a Danish woman. As my friends have.

Bear in mind, British feminists dreaming of Denmark, I have been here for nearly five years. I have started to think like a Dane. At work, I am almost constantly on the brink of saying “Yes but here in Denmark we do it like this.”* I have got used to living a certain way. A man tried to get past me in a shop by saying something to me and I completely ignored him because I did not realise he was talking to me, I thought he was on his phone (In Denmark, you sort of push past or get really close until the person moves, it’s not “rude” as such here). When I go back to the UK, I find it incredibly hard to make small talk. I am starting to think of Denmark as home. I care about my town and making it better.

And yet. For every four people who are fine with me thinking like a Dane, one person will come and give me a metaphorical Cleveland Steamer for having the temerity of being permanently foreign in Denmark. I am never going to be accepted. I could do, as others before me have done, the whole “get fluent” thing but I will never be accepted in the way my friends in the UK from other countries were accepted. I will always be marked by my origins. People will always ask me where I am from, even if I live here for decades more than I have lived in the UK.

If you go to Danish class, you will find that women are encouraged into SOSU (like a care worker position but with none of the prestige) and men are encouraged to become manual workers. It is not me being paranoid, it’s the stated aim of Danish integration politics. Get immigrant women into careworker support roles. Immigrant men are filtered into other roles. It doesn’t matter what your specialism was back in the old country or where your natural talents lie. You are a pigeon and you must fill a hole.

My first Danish textbook was about Familien Jensen and their day-to-day lives. You will NEVER GUESS who out of Lise and Jan did the housework and cooking. Even though both of them have jobs and work the same hours. One of the government videos you may be forced to view as part of your integration process informs you that “feminism is completely irrelevant” in Denmark today!

Even if women’s rights had won here in Socialist Paradise Denmark, which they haven’t, you will find you are not considered a full woman with the same rights as the real women who live here. You will still be a second class citizen but because you are foreign, not because you are a woman. I am really not sure if that is any better.

(Unless you are rich, then you can do what you want. (But that is true in Britain too.))

I hear it is better in Sweden.*

*This is a use of “Danish humour”, I hope you enjoyed it.

On Being a Language Learner and the Princess Mary Principle

I am back to my old self now. When I first moved to Denmark, I did not want to be a cultural imperialist. I did not want to tell people off for being rude when they were not being rude by their standards. I did not want to force people to speak English.

Then as I went through culture shock, that uncomfortable process of finding out what is rude, what is acceptable and what is expected, I became increasingly impatient with the level of rudeness I was experiencing.

I was getting a lot more shitty incoming, at precisely the same time I could not handle it, because my Danish was poor. I would go into a shop and ask something and be greeted with incredibly poor manners. They would look me up and down and decide “Yes, this person is fair game.”

As my Danish got better, and my expectations got somewhat lower, the poor experiences were fewer and fewer. It really does seem to be a minority of people who do this and they only do it to freshies. You might get through your first few years of integration without ever meeting one. Or maybe, just meeting one. And thinking “What a prick!” and not becoming mentally scarred.

I was getting a 50% hit rate. Fifty percent of the time, I would meet someone who would try to tear me down or was dismissive or unkind. And it really really fucked me up.

Did I tell you about the time I visited France? My French used to be pretty hardcore and now it is just reasonable. Even when my French was still crappy, I was happy to have a go. Think around corners. Just talk. When I was 11 and had been learning French for 3 months, my mum asked me to ask where the baker’s was. I could not remember the word for baker so I asked for the “bread shop” and we were shown the way. Anyway, I visited France, not understanding the number the bad-danes had done on me. I blithely went into a pharmacy, looking for ear plugs (youth hostel), and halfway through the interaction completely panicked and shut down because I realised I did not know the word for earplugs. Pre Denmark, it would not have fazed me, I would have just said “Hello, I would like…” mimed the international symbol for “I’m not listening” and said ear and then put my fingers close together to mime how small the object I wanted was. But I just went red, shut down and went “OMG I am sorry. Ear plugs? Do you speak English? Sorry.”

That is what Denmark did to me. And I was worried the damage was permanent. Now, I am happy to even ring people up, people who are not expecting a foreigner on the end of the line, and sort some shit out.

Even though I am working in an international environment right now, I have spoken Danish dozens of times in a week. The majority of these times have been fine. There have been two were I thought “Ahh, shit, I should have said it like that,” after the fact but the person I was talking to was okay with it. I impressed myself with a complicated call to the post office about a re-delivery. Like during the call “Hey, this is impressive stuff.”

But like the men with bladders on sticks hitting kings on the head as they go through crowds, I must be reminded that I am not a god. My reminder was yesterday at the bank. I also found out that I am back to normal because I reacted to it in the exact same way I reacted to camera magazines being placed under men’s interest in WHSmiths newsagents the week before I moved to Denmark “Well, you can see why I would be confused, photography is unisex. So your layout does not make any sense.”

I got an old 50 kroner note from the 7/11 and I thought as I walked away “Oh shit, is this still legal tender?” (It’s the femti one they got rid of about three years ago) I resolved to go to the bank and ask. I walked down to my bank branch in Aarhus, in the snow, got inside. Found out they do not have money anymore. Just cashpoints. So what do you do if your card gets stolen, geniuses? They also want to charge me for having a bank account. I will be changing banks as soon as. I told my boyfriend about this story and I think he was disappointed it was in Aarhus, he has been hoping all this shit has been local to Fredericia and people in Aarhus are a bit more cultured and used to foreigners.

A lady of about 50 said “Can I help you?” and I said

“Hej, jeg har lige kommet fra en butik. De gav mig sådan en (showing note). Kan det stadig blive bruges, eller skal jeg skifte det her?”

(Hi, yai har lee comet fra en booteek. Day gayw ma sawden een. Kan day staredy bleer broous, eller skal yai skifte day here?)

And she goes

“HVAD?!”

*Le sigh* I had been practicing it in my head all the way down to the bank.

“Didn’t you understand ANY of that?”

“No.”

And I thought “!” but I said (channeling Judi Dench, as I do in stressful situations)

 

M (James Bond)
Oh no you dittent

 

“Would. You. Prefer. I. Asked. In. English?”

And she goes “Yes, English.” (to which, I now realise I should have said “WHAT?!”)

A brief interruption on the matter of culture. In Danish, there is supposed to be a cultural assumption that no one is better than anyone else. They have a form of polite you that is only used in extremis. They call each other by their first names. You can tell your boss you don’t think much of his decisions and he will not get mad.

Now, if this meant, no one was lah-di-dah and everyone got treated with the respect they deserved as human beings, then that would be the best thing ever. EVER. But it often means a race to the bottom in terms of courtesy. Why should I treat you like a human being, you’re nothing special? So words and phrases that lend an air of consideration like “Må jeg lige komme forbi?” (Excuse me) and “Må jeg bede dig om …/ Jeg vil gerne bede om…” (Please) and “Det må du undskylde” (Sorry) and “Hvadbehar?” (Pardon) and “Beklager” (Apologies) are almost entirely wiped out. I only ever hear ‘please’ from children, ‘sorry’ when someone has totally shit the bed and ‘apologies’ ironically. I learned all these phrases about two years in. Not at language school. Not from any of my interactions. In the first two years. If these phrases were pandas, there would be a campaign to save them.

You need to bear in mind. If I had been an 80 year old woman, a businessman in a suit and tie or Princess Mary, there is no way on God’s green earth that woman would have said “HVAD?!?” she would have said “Hvadbehar?” or “Beklager, hvad siger du?” or “Undskyld, engang til.” It is not a crime that she did not understand me, foreign accents can be hard if you are not expecting them. It is because she talked to me without any respect or consideration.

So, we are not equal. We are not considered equal. We are not treated equally. Some people are treated with no respect and then told it is because of some book that the person has not read (I have read it. It’s a satire. It also over-uses the word “Pludselig”) Some people are treated with great respect. Deference even. The way this matter is settled is through the magic of prejudice. Look or sound a certain way and forget about getting courtesy from small minded people.

Did I tell you that the last time someone said “Hvad siger du?” to me with an air of superiority, I said “HAH!” and parrotted the phrase back back with a Danish hick accent to them before asking again really slowly? Because, helt ærligt!

End of intermission.

So she says (as if I am stupid), that yes, the note is still legal tender.

Customer service is pretty poor in Denmark, yo.

And I said thanks. She turns to go and I think “No, fuck it. Fuck it. I’m saying something.” I think I skipped becoming my mother and went straight into becoming my grandmother. (Though, my mother DID do this sort of thing a lot when she was my age and I would hide behind her legs and go “No, not the manager AGAIN.”) My grandmother does not take this kind of shit, either. But where I differ from my mother and my grandmother is how I respond. My grandmother responds with biting sarcasm. My mother is very direct. I respond pedagogically.

“Can I give you some feedback. (No pause for her response, I just launch into it). When you say “HVAD?!?” like that, it’s not very helpful. What would have been more helpful is if you had said which parts you did not understand or asked a clarifying question about what you did catch. Just shouting “HVAD?!” at me makes me not want to speak Danish anymore (tears of rage showing in eyes), and it hurts my feelings.”

She looks surprised and sorry. She did not mean to treat me like dirt, nor hurt my feelings. She is not sure why she did, by the looks of her face. I am talking to her like she is a child and she is responding in the same way even though she is 50.

“It’s just it was so fast…”

“That’s great, that’s perfect. So, next time, you could say something like “Could you slow down, please?” and I would have felt a lot better about it.”

“Ok. Sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

And she squeezed my upper arm (which is a primate thing for “I am dominant over you” and I know that so), I twisted my arm as she reached so I could squeeze hers simultaneously. And I left the bank.