Submitted by Kelsey Sprowell
I had a profoundly human experience on an airplane this morning and after tumbling it over in my mind, it seems fit to share it.
First, some background: I should have been home from my business trip by now. My flight from Louisiana to Dallas was delayed by more than three hours last night so I missed my connection to Cedar Rapids and was rebooked on a flight this morning. At the gate, the agent changed my seat; when I boarded, another woman and her elderly mother were sitting there, so I picked another. The steward came through and reshuffled us again, and then we sat on the tarmac for a while waiting out a storm. I overheard the woman behind me tell the steward that she’d never traveled with a baby, and I noticed she had an infant. All of this is to say: it seems like a Godwink that any of this happened in the first place.
A half an hour into the flight, I was caffeinated to the gills and absently reading some stories saved on my phone for exactly such an occasion when there was a big thud, and then gasps. The passenger behind me had fallen asleep and dropped the baby. She picked up the baby, who had startled, but not cried. The passengers around us looked around uncomfortably - what do you do when someone drops a baby?! I threw my phone in my bag, unbuckled my seatbelt, got up, and reached out my arms for the babe. I had a million thoughts at once: this one looked about four months old, and this was obviously Grandma, not Mom. People, babies are so freaking hard, and when my girls were that little, I often felt like the only reason I didn’t drop them when I fell asleep is because of some biochemical muscle activation that kicked in because I grew them myself, and this lady clearly didn’t have that advantage. I flew with my kids a bunch; it’s like traveling with a bobcat and all of the materials in its enclosure. No one offers to help, but everyone offers judgement. Grandma handed me the baby as I told her, “I’m a mom, my babies are at home, let me hold your baby so you can get some sleep.”
After I sat down again I noticed that the woman across the aisle from me was crying. I held her gaze for long enough to prompt her to talk, and she said, “I’m sorry. I’m flying home from dropping my son off at rehab. I’m so scared.” I asked if she wanted to sit next to me, and she said no. I asked if she wanted to hold the baby - by this point Grandma had fallen back asleep - and she said yes. We took turns passing the baby back and forth.
After Grandma woke up, she told me the baby’s name was Peanut. The woman across the aisle told me her son’s name was Max and that he’s 22. I cried with her getting off the plane, because I know that mama love, and I can imagine what her heart feels like leaving her kiddo in Texas. We all parted ways, and I can’t stop thinking about any of them.
So if you’re the praying type, remember Peanut in your prayers, and also her mom and grandma, and definitely Max and his mom, too. And for God’s sake, go out of your way to be nice to people. Being a human is hard work. The world needs it.
Having worked as a woman in high tech for 32 years and rarely, if ever, encountering, or at least recognizing, any sort of discrimination, patronization, or hostility, I've been perplexed by all of the news reports, studies, and recent conversations about the obstacles women face in high tech careers. Until today.
During a thoughtful conversion with a new friend about what it's like to be a woman pursuing a high tech career, all of the information I've gathered over the last 57 years fell into place. Suddenly it made sense and felt profound. Maybe you've already figured things out. If not, read on.
When I entered the workforce in the mid-1980s, there were a lot of horror stories about the things women were enduring in the workplace.
One of my co-workers talked about having been selected to paricipate in a management program for high-potential new-hires with her previous employer. Participants were requierd to give a monthly presentation to a large group of managers. As a "joke", the managers lined the walls of the conference room with centerfold posters, which she encounted as she walked into the room to give her presentation for the first time. She ignored them and gave the presentation. The posters weren't there the next month. That was progress.
Another co-worker told about a time that a male colleague followed her into a storage room, closed the door behind them, and attempted to assualt her. She got away.
Just about every woman I know who is older than I am has a story ... or stories. My expectations were set early on, and I was on guard. For years.
The thing is, I didn't have any of those experiences. I don't remember people trying to embarass me or make me feel uncomfortable at work, and I was certainly never assaulted. From my perspective, there were no problems. The women before me had done the heavy lifting, they'd paved the way, and I was sincerly grateful for all they'd done so that my experiences were different. In fact, I almost always felt respected, supported, and encouraged to strive for more. I have been happily sharing my perspective with others for years; especially younger women.
In fact, many of my colleagues and friends have shared this message with the following generation. "Join us," we say. "Things have changed! You will be respected, accepted, and you will thrive."
So when the next generation does join us, it is with different expectations than we had when we entered the workplace. For them, the expectation is not only different, but higher. Much higher. The next generation of women arrives expecting to experience equality, encouragement, acceptance and more. They're not impressed when they avoid assaults or harassment.
They expect more. Much more. And I think they're going to get it.
An opportunity for parents in the USA, UK and Germany to help other working parents
An Invitation to Parents in the USA, UK and Germany to Participate in a Research Study About Employing Nannies in the Home
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are studying what parents who employ nannies and other domestic employees think about certain issues that come up when you have someone working in your home.
Do you employ a nanny or au pair to take care of your child(ren)? If so, the researchers would like to interview you for 30 minutes, and they'll provide you with a $25 honorarium if you participate.
If you're willing to participate, please call, text or email Julia Bernd directly (to maintain confidentiality) as follows:
-- Call/text Julia Bernd: +1-650-862-0509
-- Email: email@example.com
-- Facebook Private Message: julia.b.bernd