Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spitting in a trash can

One of the things that I've tried to deal with in my years teaching in Baltimore is the Baltimorean trait of spitting in trash cans. Honestly, I don't know if it's Baltimorean or not. I'd never noticed a single soul doing it in all my years, though, until I became a teacher in Baltimore. It could be a Black thing, I suppose. It could be an urban thing, I suppose. I could be an economic thing. I don't know. All I know is that often, I have a student walk across my classroom, and spit into a trashcan. It really grosses me out. It even grosses me out when the student just excuses herself and goes into the hallway to do it. In all my years of life, I have never felt the need to spit in that way. Apparently, it's phlegm or something that they're spitting, and they swear they won't get any better unless they spit out anything that comes up. Still, I can't even connect with this.

I got into a little discussion with a student the other day about it. "When you are a business executive in a middle of a meeting, will you walk to the other side of the room and spit into a trashcan?," I asked her.

She swore that this would be okay, as long as she wasn't obvious about it. Because people, she says, know that you can't get healthy if you're sick if you don't spit out your phlegm constantly.

I told her it was a Baltimorean thing. I told her in all my 31 years of life, I'd never felt the need to spit in that fashion. I told her that it's undignified and unladylike and that she should hear it now before she goes off into the world. I have a very pleasant relationship with this student, and she smiled and told me I was wrong, that it was very normal and accepted. I told her she would be better off taking a tissue and blowing her nose and coughing into it, if she couldn't fully excuse herself. She again said I was crazy.

Is it a race thing? My African-American colleague swears that it is not. She is horrified by this behavior, and equates it with behavior off the street, the kind of behavior that keeps African-Americans down. I do not know. I just know it really grosses me out. Ewww!

8 comments:

Ms.Alisha said...

My students do this also and I find it rather disgusting too! I had never seen it either before I came to teach in Baltimore. I agree with you that its important to point out to students socially unacceptable behaviors - they may not hear it from anyone else unfortunatly.

HappyChyck said...

That grosses me out, too. The janitors don't change the trash liners unless they rip, so that spit could drip down and be there a while.

I teach in Nevada, and I've seen it in the rural schools and the urban schools where I've taught. I thought it was poor manners. I also see people spitting on the street, too. Way classy! Nice way to spread whatever you trying to expel from your body to everyone else! This is why I also freak out about my children touching the bottom of their shoes.

I guess if they MUST spit, at least it's in the trash can. I don't know why it's necessary to spit like that in public, though.

Molly said...

People did this at my highschool, so I don't find it particularly surprising, if completely disgusting.

I say that drinking lots of water and swallowing their nonsense is just as good as spitting, and much more polite.

Smallest Twine said...

Yeah, I've seen this too and it's wicked gross. I have also seen, twice now, students spitting on the floor in the hallway. Gross!

Ann said...

Please don't equate this nasty thing with my hometown (Baltimore)! Never saw this until I started teaching in the city. I think it must be a street thing. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

I doubt it's a race thing based on my first two years of teaching. It was in a Catholic all-male HS on the South Side of Chicago that had become 90%+ African-American by the 1980s. I cannot recall ever witnessing this behavior among my students.

-The Chaplain

Living Life said...

my husband does it and it sickens me. i think it's the most disgusting thing one can do. he used to spit in the kitchen or bathroom and i quickly put an end to that. i think a lot of ppl are just plain ignorant and have never been taught...

Brian said...

I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SPIT IN A TRASH CAN THATS IN A SMALL ROOM >< WTF GET THE HELL UP GO TO THE BATHROOM SPIT INTO THE TOILET OR SINK & WASH OR FLUSH IT DOWN!!!! I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SPIT INTO TRASH CANS.. THEY THINK ITS THERO? ITS NOT.. PEOPLE ARE STILL BREATHING IN AIR AND THAT NASTY SPIT (GREEN*/BROWN) shit is really nasty.. WHEN I GET THIS VIRUS I WOULD ASK TO GO TO THE BATHROOM (NOT GET UP AND SPIT IN A TRASH CAN) MY BROTHER IS CLEAN BUT HE STILL SPITS IN HIS TRASH CAN.. but i get up and hit the bathroom sink and wash it down ><