Saturday, March 05, 2005

receipt deceit

Maybe it’s not new to the Irish, but racism is definitely new to Ireland the country. Hard to believe that we are no longer on the receiving end though!

The past ten years has seen our economy flourish, mostly thanks to handouts from the European Union. Some bright spark economist coined the term “The Celtic Tiger” to represent our boom period.

This prosperous spell has, quite naturally, led to an influx of people from all kinds of different countries, most notably China and Nigeria. Now, all the so-called “crappy” jobs in fast-food restaurants, gas stations and the like, have been taken by these people.

The Irish just don’t know how to handle it! We’re used to most people being white! Names being O’Leary and Ryan and McGuinness! Everyone being Catholic! Black people, Chinese people, everywhere we go!!! What oh what can we possibly do???

Last year, the people of Ireland overwhelmingly voted “yes” in a referendum to the proposal to take the right to determine who gets to be “Irish” out of the constitution and into the hands of the government from now on, a plebescite which was clearly designed to pave the way for future legislation curtailing the influx of foreign nationals.

The debate surrounding the referendum led to widespead suspicion towards anyone who did “not look Irish”. Less than a week ago, I was headed for a taxi rank in downtown Dublin. My fiancee and I had enjoyed a few beers on a Sunday afternoon watching the Ireland v England rugby game, and we were in buoyant mood, as the Irish won.

A couple were ahead of us approaching the rank. For some reason, they looked into the first taxi in the line, and proceeded to take the one behind it, which accepted the fare and drove off. To my horror but not so much to my surprise, we got to the cab that had been spurned and found out its driver was of Indian/Pakistani origin. The other cab, with both its passengers and its driver guilty as charged, was stopped at a nearby set of lights for a few seconds, and all inside stared blankly ahead as they tried to ignore my cries of disbelief that they would refuse to take this cab. We got inside and he duly took us home. He did not seem fazed by the incident. I doubt it was the first time it happened to him.

My personal opinion is that it is amazing how a nation of people that is so fervent in remembering its “800 years of opression” by the British can be so remarkably unwelcoming to anyone. I am becoming increasingly disheartened by the realisation that so few people around me feel the same. The referendum I refer to above was passed by a ratio of four to one.

Just this evening, I stopped off at a gas station to get some groceries as I was picking up my kids for the weekend. The place was totally manned by people of seemingly Chinese origin. My purchase consisted of a loaf of bread, a litre of milk and a tub of Pringles. The guy at the register did not scan any items, he just looked at them and said “€4.30 please”. I gave him the money and he just put it in the register. I stood there looking at him.

“Was there something else?”

“Yes, can I have a receipt, please?” Something was not right.

“Uh, yeah.”

He then proceeded to write the items down on a piece of paper, and when he added them up he discovered the total was now €5.20.

“Is there something wrong with the register that you are not scanning them in?”

“Uh, yeah, it’s, um, not working today.”

This was way, way fishy. This was a station from a well known worldwide gas empire. He was making no record of the transaction; what was being purchased, nothing; he was just throwing the money into the register. When I was a store manager, I would have fallen over myself to make sure not only our inventory was straight, but also none of the customers could think there was anything untoward.

By now there was a line behind me. If he were Irish, I would have kicked up a fuss. Instead, I thought it better to hand him the extra money, keep the receipt I had been given and leave the store and make a decision once I got home whether or not to take further action.

For me, an end to racism can be claimed the day I can see a man of a race different to my own being an asshole, and be able to call him an asshole without my being called a racist. The quest for equality is much like a pendulum, which must swing both ways before it rests at the centre.

I’m still not sure what to do with this receipt. In case you are wondering, I don’t exactly look as if I was born under the Blarney Stone myself!!!


Buffalo said...

An asshole is an asshole is an asshole. The way to prevent being considered a bigot is to hate everyone.

Mr. Middle America said...

"For me, an end to racism can be claimed the day I can see a man of a race different to my own being an asshole, and be able to call him an asshole without my being called a racist."

Personally, I am not prejudiced, I hate everyone... I stole that from a friend that used to weat around a hat that had the words "F-you" on it! It had the real words, by the way!