My two cents on sensitivity

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From age twelve to sixteen, I worked for my uncle mowing lawns for his landscaping business. At age sixteen, I started working at a nursing home fixing plates in the kitchen for residents with Alzheimer’s and the moribund. At age seventeen, I started working at a Starbucks. This lasted three years on and off. During my sophomore year here at Macalester, I started working at the Campus Center as an Information Desk Assistant, then a Conference Assistant, Building Manager, and finally as the Building Manager Supervisor. In between jobs I had short stints as a cashier, lacrosse instructor, cook, file clerk, and day laborer where I once mixed chemicals for shampoos and lotions; I lost all the skin on my hands and never went back.

In all my work experiences, I have learned one truth: There are people out there who will never be able to understand where I am coming from. They don’t understand what it is like to be cussed-out because you put whole milk instead of nonfat in someone’s cup of coffee. They will not understand what it is like to have their paychecks cut short because their employer can get away with it. They will not empathize with other wage earners, with laborers, with the working poor. This is especially true at Macalester.

Everyday in my job and going to school I see the wanton disregard for members of our community. I see hundreds of newspapers, receipts, school papers, food containers, and empty drinks scattered all over campus, especially in the dorms and Campus Center.

Do you know who has to gather all that trash? Can you tell me their names? Can you describe the broken look on their face when they see the disaster that someone left for them? It seems that you are too stupid to realize, when you move something, someone has to move it back. When you break something, someone has to fix it. When you throw your cigarettes on the ground, the grounds crew picks them up one at a time. When you puke in the bathroom or hall, actual humans beings with lives, dreams, and hardships have to clean it up.

I guess I should say something trite like “try walking a mile in their shoes,” but the truth is I just don’t want people to be surprised when someone spits in their burger or ignores them at a customer service desk.

Contact Orlando Martinez’06 at [email protected]