I loved Meghan’s post below. You should really check it out. Not that I am trying to steal her thunder, but today brought about a similar experience of never judging a book by its cover.
Fortunately patience is something that has been instilled in me somehow or another over the years, and it has allowed for an appreciation of an otherwise unappreciated demographic in DC. Maybe unappreciated is not the exact word … undervalued could be a more appropriate one. This demographic is the ever-expanding Latin American population in the city. Many people joke about Mexicans and manual labor. Joke all you want, many came from really harsh circumstances for a better life, for them and their family. And how many of you think you could cut it doing heavy physical labor a minimum of 10 hours a day, at least five days a week? Thought so. But they are not all “Mexicans” and they do not all do manual labor and they do not all just speak a few words of English, and any other negative connotations one may associate with this particular group.
Well … waiting in line at a Bank of America this afternoon there was a gentleman attending two customers. Silently. The gentleman a stereotypical example of a middle-aged Latin American. Pass him on the street in casual attire and you wouldn’t give him more than a second’s thought at his “immigrant” appearance (aren’t we pretty much all just immigrants in this country anyway??). This attendant gentleman was clean cut in a pin stripe suit sporting a name badge, like any respectable bank employee would be expected to be dressed. However, he was silent, as were the two young men he was across from. After a moment I realized that he was “speaking” with the two clients in a third language (I’ve seen him before and he definitely speaks Spanish as a native and educated English as the gentleman he is being referred to in this post). This third language was sign language. Maybe English maybe Spanish, I am not very versed in any type of SL. At this point, I just started smiling. Not because I was surprised that he was using sign language, or impressed that he knew something more than Spanish, or even that I may have stereotyped him from an initial physical appearance. I think it was more just thinking of those around me, if they were even paying attention to what was going on, if they were cognizant of how able this individual was to communicate with others. Of how people stereotype. Of how people judge immediately. Of how inconsiderate we are of one another. I just smiled. And when it was my turn, he smiled back, and spoke to me in perfect English.
Realmente, como Meghan, a nosotros nos gusta la gente de todo el mundo, da igual de donde viene una persona, de cualquier país … ni importa el idioma ni el color de la piel ni si tiene dinero o no. El mundo es más rico con una mezcla así.
P.S. Read Meghan’s London cabbie thoughts!