December 7, 2008

Racism: It's not just for Americans anymore

Was running low on battery juice when I was in LAX, and couldn't get this typed up before running out of power.

So, I was sitting in a restaurant having a lunch (turkey and bacon cibatta with chips and a diet coke, if you care.)

Guy sits next to me. I glance his way, and get back to checking e-mail and flight status and watching the Colts game via Yahoo Sports. Behind the bar was Sergio, a pleasant guy of some sort of Latino descent (I don't know if he was Mexican, Puerto Rican, or what, and don't really care. He was a nice guy, very professional, and kept my soda full.) Another worker in the diner spoke a few words with Sergio in Spanish, and Sergio replied in kind. They talked for perhaps 20 or 30 seconds, and moved on to continue their work.

At which point, the guy next to me says "I thought I was in Los Angeles." With a pronounced Australian accent.

"Yes, sir, you are. Why do you ask?"

"Cause it sounds like I'm in Tijuana, all these boys speaking Spanish and all."

"What's the problem with that? If they can communicate better in Spanish than English, what's the problem?"

"It's rude. How do you know they're not making insults about you?"

"I don't, and I don't care. The service is good, and when the bartender is talking to me, it's in a language that I understand. Hell, these guys are smarter than I am, being fluent in two languages to my one. So what's the problem?"

"It's still rude. They could be insulting me. They ARE insulting me, by not speaking my language."

"Well, you are insulting me with your Australian accent, so I demand that when you're in America, you speak with an American accent. How's that sound?"

"Your suggestion sounds foolish and unreasonable."

"Welcome to my world."

(Sergio later offered to buy me a beer... after the Aussie racist pig left without another word and Sergio was done laughing. I had to decline, but felt good about the exchange.)


Rogue Medic said...

They could also whisper about customers in voices low enough to not be overheard. Your charming companion would not know if they were whispering insults about him and would not even know if they were whispering in English.

They could wait until he left and comment about him.

Scary to think, but someone could even write a blog post about the rudeness of this guy.

He was complaining that others are rude for not insulting him directly, when they were not even paying any attention to him.

You didn't thank him for sharing his paranoia? :-)

Lynne S of Oz said...

Well how rude! I guess this would be the same (sort of) guy who gets offended by the Asian or African immigrants in my area of Melbourne, Australia, speaking their own language too. Not all of us are like that.

Rogue Medic said...

Lynne S of Oz,

That is exactly the point of prejudices/stereotypes/biases. They take limited information and draw broad conclusions from that limited information. This is illogical. No nationality has cornered the market on that. To presume that other Australians are as narrow minded as the guy described in the post would only be to imitate his foolish lack of thinking. :-)

Jeff B said...

Lynne S:

No question in my mind that not every Aussie (or even the majority) are like this bloke.

Just struck me as odd, for some reason: We often read or hear about how it's us bloody Seppos* that are intolerant, and the rest of the world is open minded. Then to experience this... well, it struck me as odd, given how considerate my various Australian friends are.

*Seppos: Ya like how I fit that in there? ;)

Lynne S of Oz said...

Nicely done, seppo! And I am guessing you know how we derived the name.

Generally I've found the more educated the Aussie, the less racist/intolerant they are. Not always. Also travel usually helps (but not in packs as tourists on buses, cos then you don't get to experience another place but do get to experience the worst parts of your own culture). I'd be guessing the same goes for people from other countries too. Just don't get me started on most "Christians" - my tolerance runs out there! LOL Even then they are allowed to have their beliefs but they are not allowed to foist them at me (or others).