Friday, April 28, 2006

A Serving from the Melting Pot?

At her conference, my wife was in the buffet line for lunch yesterday. Behind the buffet line were servers who all appeared to be Latino. One of the conference attendees next to her — a Caucasian guy — was telling another that he had seen a bumper sticker that said "Secure Our Borders." He continued that he thought he would have a bestselling bumper sticker if the same slogan were written in both English and Spanish.

We don't know if the man was oblivious, indifferent, or being deliberately provocative. (My wife thought he was clueless; the staff was, perhaps, "invisible" too him.) Now it's possible   the workers were all citizens and/or legal immigrants and  completely agreed with the sentiment of the bumper sticker in question. (Statistically, though, I suppose that the opinion part of that hypothetical is very unlikely). Nevertheless, the comment — the guy's opinion notwithstanding — seemed insensitive, to say the least.

Without getting into my (complex) opinions about immigration or multicultural issues, the situation makes me wonder. Would this man have been as outspoken about, for example, the war if surrounded by a bunch of soldiers or peace activists, or about abortion if surrounded by a group of conservative Christians or pro-choice feminists?

At breakfast, we again learned the value of not  acting as if the "staff" is invisible just because their culture or income-level or language or education level might  be different than yours.

I hope to tell that story in the next post.

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