Hazed for a Sandwich
I was at the neighborhood sandwich joint for a tuna sub for J and I. The teen that was taking my order stood there like a retard with a loaf of wheat bread smeared with tuna and kept staring at me. "Is that all that goes into it ?" I asked incredulously "Whatever-else-you-want-with-it" he slurred.
This is just the kind of pebbles-in-mouth-uniform-intonation mumble that drives me up the wall. "Isn't there a standard recipe for it ?" I asked. It had taken a good five minutes to reach a common understanding about the type of bread I wanted.
Customers were lining up behind me. The teen shrugged his shoulder and mouthed something that I totally lost. He was doing nothing to the tuna smeared bread. "I don't see anything labeled in there so how I can tell what you have ?" I said pointing to a row of opaque plastic bottles of dressing. He named all ten of them without so much as pausing to catch his breath.
J was following this with curiosity looking at the teen and at me by turn. She could tell Mommy was getting real mad. "You know what, since I can't understand a word of what you're saying and you don't have a recipe, just thrown in whatever you like and I'll pay you for your trouble." I said in obvious exasperation. The silence around me with pregnant with deep, undecipherable meaning. I realized I could hear only myself. J inched closer to me.
That shook his speech out of the slur-mumble mode. He actually said "Would you like some tomatoes ?" just like a normal person would. I was even given the typical how-would-you-like-it spiel. He was perfectly articulate now. The transaction was completed in mere seconds.
This is the kind of racial hazing I have been through many times before and am building an immunity towards it. I figure I can't be troubled by a high-school drop-out who is convinced he is not making as much he should because a colored female immigrant took his rightful entitlement away from him.
I guess it is too much to expect that he have any awareness of the Indian educational system, or know how kids there work their tails of for all the high school years to get through the competitive exams for top of the line engineering and medical schools. His notion of numbers and ratios would fail him if I told him that several million candidates compete for a few thousand seats.
Back in my time, failing was not an option because there was no diversity in career choices that paid the bills. We worked very hard to be where we are and the legal immigration channels that people like me go through in the US deplete us of the little life we've got left. If he had worked a tenth as hard as I had he could have been graduating from a top tier school in his country with employers wooing him with signing bonuses.
The fact that he and the system could not work to the betterment of his life has nothing to do with me would be more than he can comprehend. I feel strongly tempted to ask "Wanna trade ?" If he can stay at my job for more than a day, I'll give it away to him freeing myself to flip burgers from now until eternity knowing my life's real purpose was thus revealed unto me.
My only concern about the message J gets from being witness to such incidents. I don't necessarily want her to grow up with a chip on her shoulder.
Hazed for a Sandwich
- » Published on April 13, 2006
- » Type: Opinion
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