SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2009       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Thomas Tenney

An Assumption Made

As an ethnographer it is very important to look at given societies and cultures in a holistic point of view. It is essential to be objective in observation, so no false assumptions are made. All factors associated with any situation must be taken into consideration so accurate conclusions can be made. The situation below is a great example of how easily incorrect suppositions can occur in daily life between two strangers. This story is written in first person between two people. One is a young man who is married and looking for a job. The other is a hard working woman who is going through a difficult divorce and at the same time is trying to manage a new business in town. After the story I will present my findings and conclusions associated with this interaction.

I was at Yavapai Community College looking for a job on the college job service web site and found an attractive job posted for a position at a local workout gym. The job description read, “Want an exciting job where you can have flexible hours with a free membership and great benefits? Experienced in soft tissue massage and want to utilize these skills without being in a doctor’s office? Then this is the job for you.” I thought that this job would be perfect for me because I previously worked at a physical therapy clinic for two years as a technician. My job included helping patients learn proper exercise techniques and performing soft tissue massage. Not to mention the possibility of having a free membership at a gym sounded like an opportunity not worth missing. I could go and work out every day if I wanted and not have to pay anything!

Once again, I was late for work. I ran to my car carrying my work files and jacket in one hand, my purse in the other and a piece of hot toast with some jam thrown on half of it in my mouth. As I tried to open the door to my car the only clump of jam on my toast spilled on to my work uniform. Crap! I wouldn’t be late everyday if it wasn’t for my jerk of an ex-husband who left me for the blonde bimbo secretary who spray paints her clothes on! I wouldn’t have to be wasting all my time dealing with the lawyers and paperwork if he wasn’t such a selfish hormonal pig! “You don’t meet my needs,” he says to me as if sex was what was keeping him alive! What a jerk! Are all men like this? I got into my car and sped off to work.

I thought that it would be best if I was to drop off the application and my resume by hand instead of sending it over email. Besides, I think that I can sell myself better in person than on paper. I printed off the job description and headed home to alter my resume.

So I drove into work at TNT. TNT is a soft tissue massage with a gym attached. I wanted to work at a doctor’s office but was not able because I did not meet the credentials of having a degree in massage therapy.
I was told that I had to get a managerial position so I could get more experience. So here I am at TNT as a manager. The last place I worked at was a massage parlor in Las Vegas where all the men who came in expected more than a massage. What a bunch of lust buckets!

I picked up the newspaper at the front door and got ready for the massage therapy rooms and gym to open. I noticed that on the front page it said “Teacher in jail on child porn charges.” Seriously!? Men are disgusting! I shake my head and go inside to get ready for work.

I finally got my resume looking good for this job and headed down to the gym. I thought to myself, “There is no way that they could say no to me with this killer resume.” The gym was called TNT. It was a small gym but it looked nice. I was dressed in a blue button-up shirt and tie. I thought it would be best if I looked professional. I got out of my car and headed for the entrance to the gym.

I looked over the new employees for the gym and I was well pleased with who I chose. Women. All women. I know I can trust women. They don’t make other women feel uncomfortable, and here that is very important. There is no way a man can do the job of a massage therapist professionally. They would probably be thinking about sex the whole time while they were giving a massage and then my gym would end up in the news, if you know what I mean. Who wants that kind of publicity?

When I walked in I noticed that there were only women working there. That’s odd. Maybe I could be a great addition because I am a male.

I heard someone walk in and I got excited thinking it was a person looking to get a membership. It was a young college age man in his twenties. As soon as he entered I noticed that he had a resume in his hand. Oh no, I have the perfect group of employees right now and I only need a few more. I don’t know this guy from Adam! How do I know he is not a pervert like all other men I have read about latley? I will just have to tell him that all the positions are taken or something.

When I got into the gym and asked for the manager I was promptly informed by the manager that I would not be getting the job. I was shocked! I showed her my resume and told her about my experience and qualifications and my desire to work hard. You know what she did? She just rolled her eyes at me like I was lying!

The young man greeted me with a cheesy grin and told me that he was a student at ASU and the rest I just ignored. I had heard enough at that point. ASU is one of the biggest party schools in the country! How do I know he is not just here to try to get a chance to see some women in towels and think sick thoughts while rubbing their backs? I can’t let him do that. So, I told him that he would not be getting the job because soft tissue massage might make the women feel uncomfortable if it was done by a man.

She told me I was not going to get the job because I was a man! I couldn’t believe it! This has never happened to me! I looked at her incredulously and asked, “Because I am a male?”

He acted as if he was shocked when I notified him that soft tissue massage done on women needed to be done by a woman. I knew he was here to try to get a chance to see a naked woman. When he asked me again if I was not hiring him because he was male and I said yes. I wasn’t going to lie to him. He had no comeback at that statement. The look on his face was priceless.

I was silent for a minute trying to think what response would be best to remain professional in the situation. So I said, “Ok, then would you do me and the rest of us males a favor? Would you put that information on the job description that you placed on the Yavapai College job service site, because I have wasted an hour and a half of my time writing up this resume and application for this specific job!”

I wanted to call her a sexist jerk and tell her that I would do everything in my power to prevent people from getting memberships at this gym, but I didn’t. I was cool about it.

He claimed that he had spent over an hour and a half writing up his resume for this specific job, but I knew that was a lie. I sure was glad when he left.

Through my research into this situation I noticed that there were false assumptions made on both sides. The manager assumed that the young man had immoral intentions in desiring a position in her workforce. The young man thought that the manager made the decision to not hire him because she was sexist. In further research into the community as a whole, I noticed that there had been many reports in the news of sexual crimes committed in the city in the last few years. This may have influenced the manager’s decision. She also had been through a hard time dealing with husband committing adultery. It was very difficult to not let her feelings influence her actions during this trial she was going through. Many negative outcomes can occur when an assumption is made.


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