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!
2 years ago