See two posts down

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

P.S. Read Meghan’s London cabbie thoughts!

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“I am the laziest ambitious person I know.”

So opines Tom Kreider in his The “Busy” Trap contribution to the NY Times.  It’s something that I have become very aware of and do what I can to not feel pressure to always be doing something.  And to feeling that doing nothing is actually something, and many times a more beneficial something that another something I could be doing.  If you know what I mean.

I have had the fortune to have experienced an extended amount of time among another culture that does not take work so seriously as Americans, especially us Northeast corridor folk.  As a matter of fact, I am being forced not to work as a result of the somewhat destructive storms that rolled through the area Friday evening.  Lots of power outages, downed trees and power lines, lack of clean water, and, unfortunately, a few casualties as a result of those storms.  The storms actually having a name – derecho – associated with the culture that I was about to name: the Spanish.  An almost nationally mandatory midday siesta, enjoyment of one another’s company over a few beers and tapas or a coffee, walking most places, separate food stores for each items bread, meats, pastries, etc.  I know I know, they are in a financial crisis much worse than what we have seen over here, and you may be thinking that they asked for it with the lifestyle they lead.  But that’s for another day.  The Spanish generally do what they can to not get stressed out over having too much to do, because they know how to generally keep themselves in check, and are aware of when they need to slow things down, and take more time to go for an evening walk before dinner or meet with friends on a Sunday afternoon to savor the last few hours before Monday’s mid-morning before-work coffee with other friends.  And taking a look at South American culture, which, as you know, was and is greatly influenced by the Spanish, they’re pace of life is even slower.

And it’s Friday and the above was written a few days ago and so I figure I better get this out.  Hope all had a nice, safe holiday (my new neighborhood is a fan of launch-it-yourself fireworks so I spent a lot of time dodging them) and stay cool this weekend … 105F forecast for tomorrow here in DC!

P