Frozen Kindness?

by admin on February 25, 2013

Miss Jeanne, I was abruptly faced with a decision today in class and I’m afraid I was rude. At the very least, if I wasn’t rude, I’m still feeling guilty about my on the spot choice! I’d welcome your insight and that of EHell readers.

Background:
I am currently approaching the end of the 8 week long summer session of classes that starts off my graduate program. One of the summer courses is a lecture that meets for 3-4 hours at a time in an excessively air conditioned lecture hall. It is so cold in the lecture hall that despite the 100+ degree heat we’ve been experiencing lately in my area, I wear jeans or capris to class and willingly tolerate the sweaty trek from my car to the classroom because I know that once inside, I’ll still be slightly miserable and cold in spite of my best efforts to stay warm. I always carry a jacket with me and put it on once I get inside and go from one temperature extreme to the other.

Today, one of my classmates approached me during a short lecture break and quietly told me she needed my jacket to tie around her waist to hide the fact that she had bled onto her pants at some point during the past hour of class. At this point, we still had two hours of lecture time to sit through and as usual, I was covered in goosebumps in spite of the long pants and the jacket. The request caught me off guard and at first I didn’t quite hear her or understand what she was asking. Once I did, I hesitated, and apologized/explained that I was already freezing even WITH the jacket on and I really needed it. She approached a second student who did take off the jacket she was wearing and give it to her.

I continued to wear my own jacket and nonetheless shiver through the last two hours of class, all the while feeling like I had failed my classmate and broken some sort of girl code. Was it rude of me not to lend her my jacket? I know it certainly would’ve been a kindness, and I do readily help people when I feel like I can, but I really, really didn’t want to endure two hours of intense air conditioning with bare arms! What does EHell think?   0710-12

{ 127 comments… read them below or add one }

Princess Buttercup February 25, 2013 at 10:48 am

I would not have given my jacket to be ruined, however I would have racked my brain to think of an alternate way I could help. Maybe by quickly retrieving something else she could use or walking her back to her vehicle.

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Jessiebird February 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

IMO, it’s a little off to make the request to borrow your jacket in the first place. for all the reasons other commenters have stated above. Biohazard, ew factor, damage to property, OP already using item…. I never would have. I would have backed out of the lecture hall before asking to inconvenience someone like that and even more, put them in the exact position OP is in right now (doubting herself) when she has to refuse.

As for the air conditioning, I believe they calculate the temperature based on a full lecture hall and that many bodies producing heat. When there are fewer bodies, it gets really cold. The library at the University of Hawaii where I did my graduate work was ice cold, and that was to protect the books from the heat and humidity of the climate there.

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Jane February 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

You were not rude – you needed your coat. I’ve been on both sides – I know what it’s like to sit through agonizingly cold lecture rooms and offices. I’ve actually worn winter coats indoors in July because of the air conditioning.

I also have completely random cycles, and have been where the classmate was, even as an adult. It’s embarrassing, but it was her issue, not yours.

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Angel February 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

I would have just offered to take notes for her so she could go home and change. I would not want someone’s menstrual blood on my clothes. Gross. I interpreted it as she wanted the jacket to tie around her waist so she could stay for the lecture. Heck no! And you would think that if the classroom was that cold, she would have had her own jacket to use.

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Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 11:16 am

You know, most universities have “school stores” where you can buy anything from textbooks, to microwaveable ramen noodles, to “XYZ University” clothing. So, I’m not saying that the OP has to do this, but she could have lent the other girl her jacket, and then walked with her to the school store, waited outside while she purchased a pair of shorts or yoga pants (and put them on in the fitting room, and taken the tag to the cash register to pay), and then asked for the jacket back once the issue was resolved. I actually had a similar situation once in university–I was in painting class, and I bent down to adjust my easel, and for some reason, my jeans ripped wide open. They weren’t too tight, or worn out, or anything like that, they just ripped. Since I lived off-campus at the time, and didn’t have a car, and I had a rehearsal scheduled for after painting class, I called my accompanist on my cell phone, told him what happened, and then did exactly what I described in the above scenario……except that it was wintertime when it happened, so I had my own sweatshirt with me, and didn’t have to borrow anyone else’s. If it had happened in non-sweatshirt weather, I probably would have just used the backpack method, but it would have been a lot more awkward.

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ImJustSaying February 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

Admin – I get the impression that the girl wanted to stay and cover her embarrassing stain. If we are speaking frankly here, once the other student changed her “equipment” the flow would be sufficiently stopped and she could continue with class. These are available from almost any other female student or the school bathroom vending machine. She would be sitting on the stain so no one would see it. After class is over she can go home and change. Maybe asking AFTER class when OP would be up and walking outside in the warmth would have been better. OP was nice and polite and well within her rights to keep her property for the purpose for which she intended.
Other thoughts – From past experience the stain always looks bigger to the girl than it does to anyone else. If she left during class maybe the hallways would be clear and she could go quickly and unnoticed to her car. If hallways are packed a friend or friends could walk behind/around her to the car. Both solutions not requiring the property of others.

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Leigh February 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

That’s just disgusting. I don’t think you were wrong to not lend out your jacket, cold or not. Blood is a biohazard, and it stains, so regardless of whether she intended to leave immediately or sit on your jacket for the rest of the lecture, she was basically asking to contaminate and ruin an article of your clothing along with her own. I would have said no even if I wasn’t freezing. College is expensive and I was broke while going. Having someone ruin or never return an article of my clothing was an extra expense I didn’t need.

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DowagerDutchess February 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

Rude, no. Violation of girl code, yes. Beyond ridiculous that you haven’t had the cooling issue dealt with- absolutely.

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Goldie February 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

What Lex said, blood is a biohazard. Even if I’d loan the jacket in this situation, that better be a very cheap or old jacket, because I’d never wear it again. Then again, I’m totally clueless when it comes to girl code.

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Ally February 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

Shoegal said this: ” I would have definitely given her my jacket and I would not have expected it back.” I have to point out that most students are pretty poor and losing or having to clean a jacket would be a big burden. While a human decency thing is helping out others, I don’t think anyone should feel coerced to give up significant material possessions for someone’s embarassment. Worst case scenario for this girl, she was potentially embarrassed on the way home (and having bled through myself, unless it’s huge or you’re wearing white, it’s usually not *that* visible). But losing a jacket or having to clean it? We’re talking a significant expenditure.

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Cami February 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

I think I’m getting a little tired of a trend I’m seeing which is excusing a lack of kindness because it does not fall under a strict definition of rudness. There are more important considerations in life than whether one’s behavior meets a strict definition of rudness. This situation is one of them. So while the OP may not have been rude per se, she was not kind. I’m not sure why it’s such a horror show to be rude, but not to be unkind.

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essie February 25, 2013 at 11:57 am

@ Admin (#47): I didn’t consider that she might have been looking for a graceful retreat. In that case, I would have offered to walk behind her to her car and shared my lecture notes when she returned, whether later that day or @ the next class.

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Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, about the “stain removal” issue, freezing cold water can usually remove just about any stain.

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Jess February 25, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I don’t think the OP was rude at all. If she always wears her jacket to the lecture hall, wouldn’t the girl who asked for it notice that fact? It’s a little rude to ask somone for their clothing, especially if blood or other dirty substances could possibly get on it. I could understand–and I would help willingly–if the girl asked for “supplies” or to borrow a cell phone to call someone to help her out, but to ask for the jacket? Especially if that jacket is worn frequently to this lecture hall??? The girl definately should have been more prepared (I always carry “supplies,” whether it’s that time of the month or not, because I never know what will happen or who will need it), or she should have quietly asked the lecturer if she could leave the hall to change, go home, call someone, etc.
As for asking the lecturer about the temperature, my guess is that they would not be able to do anything about that. I don’t know if it’s a college thing or what, but our main lecture hall is perpetually 32 degrees all year; no amount of begging the professers or the rest of the staff will get it fixed. I maintain that Zeus is in control of it. There’s no other plausible explanation :)

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Ashley February 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm

While I feel for the girl (Because seriously, leaks SUCK!) I don’t blame OP at all for not wanting to give up her jacket. It’s her property, and she’s entitled to do with it what she wants. If she were refusing to give it up out of spite or something, yeah, that would be rude, but it wasn’t out of spite. Secondly, if the leak occurred as recently as it seems, there’s a good chance that the jacket would wind up with blood stains, and who wants that?

Again, yes, it sucks for the girl with the leak, but I can’t believe anyone is faulting OP for anything in this situation.

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Miss Alex February 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

OP, you weren’t being rude. I wouldn’t have lent her my jacket either (though I would be sympathetic, as someone with an odd menstrual cycle [TMI, sorry].) I think some people in the comment section disliked your reaction because you didn’t offer a sanitary product in place of your jacket or anything like that. Of course, that’s understandable if you didn’t have any on you, and you are not required to give them to her even if you did. Bottom line: you are not rude.

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InNM February 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I have severe reactions to the cold (a combination of human behavior and a low blood count) which makes me shiver violently and take longer than the average person to warm up. While my sympathy is there for the other female classmate, if I was the OP I would politely refuse as we’ll since not only would I not be able to focus, I would start distracting the people around me. Also, I am a little squeamish about blood, so I am not sure I would feel comfortable lending my jacket to cover a blood stain.
I would have offered my help to get her as cleaned up as possible.

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Library Diva February 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I’m surprised at how many commentors seem to think that OP should have given up a possession that she was currently using to a stranger, to potentially be ruined or never seen again. Why does this girl’s desire not to be embarrassed trump OP’s desire to be warm, and also to get the most out of the class she’s paying to take? OSHA actually has standards for indoor temperatures. When it’s too cold, your body starts devoting more resources towards staying warm, and your concentration is affected. OP wasn’t just being selfish, she was trying to get the most out of her class.

Just because someone is in need of one of your things, and just because they ask politely, doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. You don’t have to use the last few minutes in your monthly cell plan to allow a stranger to call and let someone else know that (s)he is running late. You’re not obligated to move your seat on an airline just because a group wants to sit together. And OP wasn’t obliged to give her jacket to this girl. Since she asked during break, it does seem to me that she intended to sit on it for another hour and a half. To me, this whole thing is very odd indeed. If I were the classmate, I don’t think this particular solution would even occur to me.

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HonorH February 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

You don’t have to make yourself a martyr in order to be nice. Yes, it would’ve been nice to lend your jacket, but you needed it yourself. And it wasn’t like you were her only option in this case. I don’t think you were rude, and I don’t think you were unkind. She asked, you were unable to accommodate her. End of story.

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Amanda H. February 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Cami, the only issue I have with your comment is that kindness should not require that we ourselves suffer just to help someone else. Yes, it would be kind to help her out, but politely refusing because OP was using the jacket to keep warm in a very cold lecture hall was not, itself, unkind. One action being kind does not automatically make the alternative unkind. OP needed the jacket to keep warm, and the other girl apparently accepted the answer with graciousness and went on to ask someone else for the favor, and this is why I, at least, excuse both from E-Hell. I probably would’ve answered the same as OP were I in her situation (and I *have* been on the other girl’s side of things too). I would be refusing because I need the jacket myself, not out of lack of sympathy or kindness.

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Aria February 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I was once in a very similar situation. In my case, however, the hall wasn’t freezing, just chilly. A friend of a friend asked if she could use my jacket to cover a stain and I agreed. It wasn’t an option for her to leave, but she was completely covered when sitting. She returned my jacket, washed, to me at the next class.

That being said, I think the OP was fine. If it had been freezing I probably wouldn’t have lent my jacket. Also, the OP says her classmate “told” her she needed the jacket, not that she asked. That would have bothered me.

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manybellsdown February 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I’m wondering why, if the lecture hall was always so cold, this girl hadn’t brought a jacket or sweater of her own?

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Garry February 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm

OP , you were not rude. Though we try to be gracious and kind, its not always possible to help everyone, all the time. You made a decision, Its no use to beat yourself about it.
But I am surprised at some of the other comments. Just because the OP was not rude, does not make the other person automatically in the wrong, and suggesting the other girl should not be asking for help in the first place because her situation was preventable IS rude. Accidents happen no matter how much we plan and to judge someone like this is plain mean.

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K February 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I don’t get the impression that she wanted to stay for the lecture at all, only leave to take care of her problem without embarrassing herself. I also suddenly get the impression that there are either a lot of men on this site with women’s names, or a lot of women who were “like, totally the best head cheerleaders EVER!” and have no idea what it’s like to have a heavy flow that can leave you mortified.

By the strictest definition, was she rude? No. But having been in girl 2’s exact place in high school, I can imagine exactly how mortified she must have been to even have to ask. So girl 1 definitely wasn’t kind. True kindness is not doing something that’s “no skin off our nose” and then bragging about it. It’s doing something that might inconvenience us for the benefit of another person or the community.

Fortunately, in my case, I was in a French class with a girl next to me who happened to look over just know exactly what the wide-eyed look on my face meant. She hastily ripped off her windbreaker (which designated her as OUR head cheerleader…she broke the mold) and told me to tie it around my waist so that I could make it to the bathroom. I had her jacket professionally cleaned, though I didn’t see anything on it, and returned it a few days later with a heartfelt card of thanks and a box of her favorite fudge from our local confectioner.

And the person who said girl 2 should have “backed out of the lecture hall” cracked me up. You’ve clearly never been in a decent university lecture hall, which seats about 600. There is no “backing out” without someone seeing you when your rear is covered in blood. I’ll pray never to be sitting next to your heartlessness if disaster strikes.

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Enna February 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

It was an akward situation for the both of you OP, I don’t think you were rude. If she had asked if you had a spare tampon or towel and you could oblidge then that’s different. If she had asked if she could be excused to sort herself out then yes you could have excused her. I think it is just one of those “chalk it down to expiernce” things. Maybe think of what you could say if you have a simliar request?

I would also recomend spearking to someone about sorting the air conditioner out.

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Firecat February 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I think the OP was neither rude nor unkind. Or if the OP was unkind, was the girl who asked her for her jacket any less unkind? The other girl wanted the jacket to avoid embarassment. The OP wanted the jacket in order to be able to effectively learn. How is it any less unkind of the other girl to expect the OP to prioritize her emotional comfort over the OP’s physical comfort than it is for the OP to prioritize her own physical comfort over this girl’s feelings?

I think that those accusing the OP of being unkind are being a tad unreasonable, or perhaps underestimating how debilitating it can be to one’s ability to concentrate or participate in a class in an effective way (even if that participation is limited to taking notes) when all it’s possible to think about is “cold, cold, COLD!”

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Emily February 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I don’t exactly understand the woman’s predicament. Assuming that the classmate wanted OPs jacket so could continue class, why exactly couldn’t she continue class without it? One would presume they wouldn’t be standing for two more hours, so shouldn’t the act of sitting down in the first place, hide the stain?

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Emmy February 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

So do those who think the OP was unkind think she should have given up the jacket and then sat there shivering and resentful? What if the jacket was brand new, expensive, or she simply couldn’t afford another one in case that one she loaned was ruined or the student simply didn’t give it back? I do agree that giving the jacket would have been very kind, it doesn’t make her unkind if she is unwilling to do something for somebody else that will cause herself significant discomfort and possible expense (if jacket is ruined or isn’t returned). The ideal solution would be to offer the girl the jacket only to walk to her car/bookstore and take it back once she gets in the car. It wasn’t clear from the OP whether the girl intended to stay in class or go home to change, it would be good to hear an update on whether she stayed or left class.

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Jane February 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

To those suggesting OP speak with her professor regarding the air – I do agree. However, it’s often just not that easy. I had a professor who would wear shorts to class, and then turn the air down to 65 degrees. His comfort triumphed the students, unfortunately.

In addition, some professors have no say over the temperature – it’s set by maintenance and higher ups.

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sv February 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I would have loaned it to her without a second’s hesitation, and if that meant A) my jacket was ruined and B) I froze for the next two hours then so be it. I cannot fathom leaving another woman in that situation, and it has nothing at all to do with etiquette or whether or not you were rude. It is about compassion for a fellow human being. Just imagine you were in that situation, and you had to ask MORE THAN ONE PERSON.

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AS February 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Cami – I think unkindness goes both ways. It is true that OP was unkind for not letting her classmate use her jacket to cover up her stain. But it was also unkind of that girl to ask OP (or anyone else) to freeze in cold and not be able to concentrate for the next few hours, and also potentially destroying their jacket by staining it with blood (Eww!).

Most of us have had accidents during our monthly cycles. But you can ask your friends for other kinds of help than asking them to spare a piece of their clothing. For example, the University I went to for grad school has feminine needs dispenser in every women’s restroom. Chances are that OP’s University has them too. Or at least, there might be a store or something nearby. There might even be someone in the class who carried a spare for emergencies, and might be willing to give it (I have done it sometimes). But IMHO, I don’t think one is obliged to give their jackets to show that they are kind. Would you be willing to spare someone your jacket if, say for example, they are bleeding due to a cut (unless it is life threatening), or need to cover up pee or puke? If not, I don’t see why one is expected to lend their jacket to cover up a stain either. It is, after all, a bodily discharge and a biohazard.

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Erin February 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm

It isn’t rude or unkind to say no to an unreasonable request. It is, however, unkind to tell someone what a mean meaniehead she is for not doing what you imagine you would do in her place.

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nk February 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm

In my opinion, politely refusing when someone asks you for a favor isn’t rude. The point of asking is that people have every right to say no–otherwise it’d just be demanding.

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Rachel February 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I usually “run hot” so I would’ve lent my jacket, but I don’t think it was rude to deny the request. I do, however, always carry a spare pad with me; you never know what will happen.

I remember one time at work (retail) a customer who didn’t speak much English basically told me, through charades, that she had started her period and had an accident. Our office is supposed to have spare pads but we were out so I gave her one out of my purse. She was very grateful.

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Lisastitch February 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I don’t think the OP was unkind. We are not required to sacrifice ourselves to be kind to someone else, and the OP was being asked to sacrifice herself–two hours of a class that she was taking since she would have been too cold to get much out of it (at least, that’s the way I’m reading the situation; I have been in rooms that were too cold for me to be able to function), and she was potentially sacrificing a jacket, since it might been returned stained and unwearable, or not been returned at all.
Some excellent suggestions have been made about ways in which she could have been kind without sacrificing herself, but hindsight is 20-20.

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Ellen February 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

OP, this was not a question of etiquette. You were not rude, and no, there is no obligation to lend your jacket or try to solve the other student’s problem. However, I think your lingering discomfort with the situation is telling you that you might wish you had extended yourself in some way to help.

There is civility or courtesy, which is the minimum of our social obligations to each other, and then there is another level of behavior which might be called graciouness or kindness. You were perfectly civil, but there was room for you to be more gracious.

On a funny note, this reminds me of the episode of Seinfeld, “I haven’t got a square to spare.” We all have a sense of how we would like others to help us when we are stuck, and hope that the kindness we put out into the world will come back to us.

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Ergala February 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

@K #74…”I don’t get the impression that she wanted to stay for the lecture at all, only leave to take care of her problem without embarrassing herself. I also suddenly get the impression that there are either a lot of men on this site with women’s names, or a lot of women who were “like, totally the best head cheerleaders EVER!” and have no idea what it’s like to have a heavy flow that can leave you mortified.”
What an interesting assumption.

As I stated in my post I absolutely DO know how it feels to have a heavy flow. Mine were bad enough to warrant a hysterectomy when I was 29 years old. However I would not ask to cover my stain/leakage with someone else’s clothes unless we were super close and they volunteered. It’s not just a stain issue but an odor one as well. I’m going to be blunt here, menstrual blood smells….and it smells BAD. And some materials will collect that odor and it won’t go away. I lost more than a few pair of pants that way. I once left a stain on the cloth seat I had been sitting on because I had no idea I’d leaked. Now THAT is embarrassing.

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AS February 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Another post from me, in response to some commenters who are saying that OP should have been kind and given the jacket (and not expected it back) – jackets are expensive! Having been a grad student myself, I know that purchasing a jacket is an expense that I cannot afford everyday (plus OP said that she is in a summer course before her grad school began; which means that she is probably not even getting paid even if she was on scholarship).

Secondly, I often have jackets that are gifts from various family members, including a sweater that my beloved late mother knit for me. No way on this earth am I going to give it to anyone, let alone for someone to use it to soak menstrual blood! This may not be the case for OP, but it could very well be true for someone else who was also asked for a jacket by the girl.

When making my original comment, I was thinking that this girl probably wanted to sit through the lecture on that jacket. But if she had wanted to walk up to her car, the better thing to ask would have been to request someone to walk behind her up to the car. Or just walk away surreptitiously. No one is really looking for blood stains any more than they are looking when you go around asking for a jacket
.

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waitress wonderwoman February 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I can’t help but wonder how many regular male commenters are not even going to try and touch this very sensitive female situation with a ten foot pole ;-). Not to imply that I surround myself with men that are completely clueless with how a woman’s body works but most men I know get kinda squeamish at the subject. I once had an “accident” while at work wearing a uniform that consisted of very light khaki pants. I explained to situation to my male manager and he became red-faced, stumbled over is words and got me out of there ASAP! Bless his heart. That being said, I’m sure if she had explained the situation to her professor, he or SHE (most women have had this awkward situation happen at some point, and perhaps this would be a better example of implementing “girl code”) would have let the student leave.
The OP did nothing wrong. It would have been no different if the classmate would have asked for a feminine product the OP herself knew she would be needing herself an hour later and refused. The girl did find someone to help her and probably hasn’t given OP’s refusal of lending her jacket a second thought. OP is definitely beating herself up on a non-issue. To the other commenters implying that OP is unkind or that the classmate should have been better prepared (accidents happen!), I really can’t fathom your reasoning.

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waitress wonderwoman February 25, 2013 at 8:49 pm

This story also made me think of the famous line from the movie Clueless, when Cher’s male teacher was questioning her about her being tardy for class and she replied ,”I was surfing the crimson wave. I had to haul to the ladies”. He automatically excused her tardiness.

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yankeegal77 February 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

With all due respect to PPs, I’m not sure how the OP was unkind.

OP, unless you made a comment that you needed your jacket and she needed to think ahead, or if you ended your apologetic refusal with “sucks to be you!!” I don’t see how you were rude or unkind. Unless you’re leaving out a part where the girl was a close friend, bleeding profusely and in tears, you were fine. She made a request (IMO, rather unreasonable) and you had every right to politely refuse. Why should you have to lose or otherwise have to potentially replace an item?

I’m a veteran of, um, *heavy* issues and it would never, ever have occurred to me to ask anyone, let alone a stranger (even if they were a classmate) to borrow their jacket. In fact, I used to carry a sweater around even on the hottest day for that reason. I would have refused just as the OP did on the following grounds:

1. I pay good money to purchase and maintain my clothing and I would not have wanted to risk someone else’s blood on it, or simply not getting it back.
2. I would probably need the jacket after that day for use on another occasion, as intended. (See #1)
3. If it’s cold in the classroom, I would need to be comfortable in order to, you know, take notes and learn. The reason I would be there in the first place.

I would have politely refused, offered to take notes and e-mail them to her if she wanted to go change, or to walk out behind her after class. I think the onus is on the girl to either grin and bear it (like I have had to do) or go to a store and purchase some sweats (like I have also had to do).

Also, I’m interested in the actual approach this girl took. (Apologies if I missed it.) Did she say she “needed” the jacket, or could she please borrow it and she would return it?

OP, if you’d loaned it out, that would have been above and beyond and super-duper nice, but you know what? It’s your property and you shouldn’t be expected to surrender it because someone else decides they need it. Not rude. Not unkind. She really put you on the spot (pun intended) and you were fine.

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Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm

>>For example, the University I went to for grad school has feminine needs dispenser in every women’s restroom. Chances are that OP’s University has them too.<<

@AS–This stood out to me in particular, because yeah, that's a very reasonable thing to assume. Every school I went to from high school onward had these machines, but the university I went to for grad school claimed that there was "no money in the budget" to keep them filled. Not only that, but they turned it around on the entire female population of the university, and made it our fault, as in, "You've been menstruating since you were X age, you should be more prepared." Well, the problem with that is, keeping the empty machines around created an expectation that they were stocked, and functioning. If the university had decided that they weren't making enough money, and announced they'd be taking them down within the next week, month, or whatever, then okay, fine. But that's not what happened–they let people find out the hard way that they were empty, and then shifted the blame onto those who attempted to use the machines for what they were for, and who'd put money into them and gotten nothing in return. Needless to say, students involved in the campus 'zine, and the newspaper, raised holy hell about this, and the feminist group I belonged to put a basket of feminine products on our door (which were better than what you'd get in a typical public bathroom vending machine), for anyone in need. We were afraid that someone might come and empty the basket in one fell swoop, but that never happened, fortunately–either because people were polite, or because our headquarters were tucked away in an obscure hallway in the upstairs of the student union building. Now, I always had "stuff" in my backpack, but I was still pretty disgusted with the way the university handled it, by pretty much NOT handling it, not saying anything, and blaming the students when they found out, and objected. One student wrote/drew a rather humourous cartoon, of a boy carrying a 12-pack of toilet paper around campus, and telling his friend, "You've been [defecating] since you were born; you should be more prepared!!!" That image will be burned into my brain for all eternity.

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ItsyBitsy February 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm

The way I read it is the other girl wanted to borrow the jacket in order to leave without embarrassment. There would be little point having it just to sit on it. These stains are usually only visible at the back, after all (I did say ‘usually’!). That being the case, no, no way would I have lent my jacket to a virtual stranger and I don’t blame the OP for doing so, either. Call me unkind.

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NostalgicGal February 26, 2013 at 12:38 am

Been on both sides of this. At times you can have something that breaks all bounds and no matter how you are prepared you have an issue. My counter was to wear something DARK in case of a breakout during the worst of the time. And even though I carried emergency stuff…

Girl code, maybe to yes. Eww factor, yes.

No I wouldn’t have loaned the coat either.

Where I went to college the first time, they had an old WWI armory that they had to use as a classroom as it was the only place they could stuff 500 bodies short of using the fieldhouse main bleachers. It had one radiator in the entry. That barn could seat 500 including the piece up on the balcony in back. It being a very northern climate… dead of winter quarter in the morning that place was below zero. The student bookstore sold electric socks (D batteries to warm your feet) and other things of that nature for that reason, and did a good business. I had an afternoon class in there and I still wore parka, two layers of bottoms, a few layers of tops, and brought an artic sleeping bag to sit in. On top of it I had a schedule where I went from 7:30am to 3pm so I had a box lunch as well. (I was good and got all wrappers taken care of before lecture started so I could be QUIET and eat, the prof teaching it commensurated, as he got to cram a sandwich down his throat as he crossed campus to give our lecture.)

Anyway, it can be excruciating to go from summer heat to artic AC and I would be bringing a pair of size too large sweatbottoms I could pull on as well as a zipfront plus the coat if needed… and cap the head. You’d be surprised how much covered feet, an extra layer on legs, and head covered will make.

OP, I’ll back you on keeping the jacket. I’d give over my last emergency supply to a gal in need, but not my jacket.

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Rebecca February 26, 2013 at 12:40 am

I don’t get the impression she was asking to sit on it and bleed on it; just to tie around her waist so nobody could see the stain. But I don’t blame the OP at all for wanting to keep her coat in a freezing cold lecture room.

Excessive air conditioning is one of my pet peeves by the way. Cool the place down a bit, sure. But there is no reason to overcompensate by cranking it to arctic conditions. Why should I be freezing cold in the middle of a heat wave?

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Auryn Grigori February 26, 2013 at 1:49 am

“I also suddenly get the impression that there are either a lot of men on this site with women’s names, or a lot of women who were “like, totally the best head cheerleaders EVER!” and have no idea what it’s like to have a heavy flow that can leave you mortified.”

Nope, last time I checked, K, I was a woman, and the closest I came to being a cheerleader was supporting a friend who wanted to be, and later changed her mind because the pep squad was too peppy. And I have had flows that I have had to use 2 types of feminine products to keep the flow under control.

I also have been in a school that over-compensates for the temperature outside by cranking up the ac to arctic levels inside. And when I get extremely cold, my concentration goes right out the window. So I probably would not have lent my coat. Feminine products, yes. Maybe a book to help her cover up. But as bloo said, loaning my coat would mean I would not be able to focus in class. And it is extremely rude, not to mention unkind, to make judgmental comments about others without knowing their situations.

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Yet Another Laura February 26, 2013 at 2:16 am

As a woman about to celebrate menopause, I don’t think you’ve violated any “girl code”. Lending “emergency supplies” yes, your coat, no.

She may ask, but you’re not obligated to inconvenience yourself.

***TMI alert, menstruation details***

By the way, since puberty I’ve had super heavy and super random to the point that I wear maxi pads every day just in case my menorrhagia starts menoraging. I’ve sometimes had to borrow “emergency supplies”, or leave early, or do laundry at 3am due to too much blood at once. I’d never dream of asking someone for an article of clothing I’d be bleeding all over. And yes, I have bled through overnight pads and eight layers of fabric. Rinsing with cold water and soap before laundering will most of the time get the stains out. I’d never never never do this to someone else’s clothes.

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Shoegal February 26, 2013 at 10:33 am

I have a number of comments based on what I read here:

1. I take offense to is the entire “Ewww” factor mentioned here. I think we are all past puberty and can get over the fact that the female population has a menstrual cycle. Yes, it is blood – last time I checked EVERYBODY has it.

2. An accident is by definition a random undhappy circumstance. How do you plan for that? Even if you had what you thought were adequate supplies/ more clothing/ a glorious exit plan – I believe you could still find yourself in an unfortunate position. So what if there is a box of pads in the ladies room – how is that helping to hide the stain?

3. A lot of people are quite protective of their outerwear. I suppose if someone wanted to use your jacket to stop the flow of blood from a gunshot wound the answer would be no too. (sorry – I know – no comparison but I couldn’t help it.) It is just a coat.

4. Yes – it would have been a sacrafice – I know about being cold – I hate it but I would have been one to help. I won’t call the anyone “unkind” for not choosing to help but as one person here said – some people choose to be more gracious than others.

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Politrix February 26, 2013 at 11:25 am

After some consideration I finally figured I’d weigh in with my two cents, for what it’s worth:
I re-read the original story, and something jumped out on me that I’m surprised on one’s brought up yet — apparently, the classmate who had the accident didn’t ASK to borrow the OP’s jacket, she “quietly told me she needed my jacket, ” which in my book, kind of makes a difference to the entire scenario. Perhaps the OP felt uncomfortable not just with the idea of lending her jacket and being freezing cold, but also with how the request was made. I know I’d be less inclined to help someone who dictated their needs to me before I even asked, rather than if they politely asked for assistance. From the OP’s wording , I kind of get the impression that the classmate was being rather pushy in her request for the jacket, so perhaps as a result, the OP became uncomfortable, and subsequently (and wrongly, IMO) felt guilty about her discomfort.
I know I’m making an assumption here, but I think the OP’s choice of words in describing the way the classmate asked for help was interesting, to say the least. Sometimes words make all the difference.

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Raven February 26, 2013 at 11:29 am

OP, while you were not “required” to lend your coat to this girl, it would have been a kindness to do so. I’m appalled at how many people here are chastising this poor girl for having the audacity to have an accident – this was something out of her control, embarrassing, and she needed help. Unless the blood was ALL OVER the back of her pants, tying OP’s jacket around her waist to leave so she could clean up probably wouldn’t have gotten blood all over the jacket.

I was riding the subway once when I had a sudden bout of heavy, unscheduled bleeding along with being doubled over in pain. (I have endometriosis.) This bleeding was bad enough that it was obvious – and not one single, solitary person offered help in any way. No one asked if I was alright, if I needed help in any way, nothing. They looked at me like I had done something dirty and wrong, and it was mortifying. A tiny amount of kindness would have been lovely, but all I got were scowls and people moving away from me.

You get out of the world what you put into it, everybody. The world would be a much better place if people went beyond the basic necessities of “etiquette rules” and did what they could to help each other. OP, it might be your turn next. I hope the person you need help from is kinder to you than you were to this girl.

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