Wednesday, November 4, 2009
CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
At the restaurant where I work as a belly dancer, for years I have also been in charge of hiring and scheduling the other dancers. Moun Of Tunis is a “family place” in more ways than one: customers with children are welcomed and doted on the way they wouldn’t ordinarily be in another restaurant, kids are allowed the run of the place while their parents dine. The owner even keeps crayons and toys on hand to entertain the youngsters.
In keeping with the family feeling, the entire staff has been there for years, in some cases, like my own, for a couple of decades. This is an anomaly in the restaurant business, where servers and cooks come and go, but even more irregular in terms of dance jobs- most of the regular belly dancers have also been there for years. Because of this, the staff itself functions as an extended family, and we are often more relaxed and informal with each other than would normally be expected in a similar situation. Everyone who works there stops by on their nights off, we all know each other’s business, and the use of nicknames, in-jokes and even pranks abound. Hence, my communications with the dancers I schedule for work are often pretty casual, if not downright personal.
Recently, I got a new cell phone. Because of a glitch in the transference of my old phone’s address book, not all of the numbers came through in the memory. I was about to send a text message to one of my regular dancers, but her number wasn’t listed in my phone’s address book. Instead of looking her number up in the restaurant’s files, I figured I knew her number by heart, so I typed her number in manually, and sent the following message:
How the hell are ya?
Miss U!! Been waaay too long since I’ve seen U.
I really REALLY need U 2 dance for me tomorrow nite- can U do it? PRETTY PLEASE?
Have TONS of dates for you next month if U R down with it.
Let me know ASAP!
WHO THE HELL IS THIS? I AM TURNING THIS NUMBER IN TO THE POLICE!
Mystified by this response, upon checking, I realized that the number I thought belonged to one of my dancers was a digit off- a wrong number. OOOPS!
Re-reading my message, which had seemed pretty innocent in terms of asking a dancer to sub a shift, I realized immediately how it could be completely misconstrued by a total stranger! Yes… context, as they say, is everything!