Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

A MINORITY IN MY OWN COUNTRY
I have become a minority in my own country. I’m not sure if it’s because of my race, my age, or my sex, but it came as a sudden reality when I reported for my second day of work at the cafe. I was interviewed for the job by my boss, a delightful and energetic woman who is of I believe Japanese descent. In her broken English she asked me if I could make coffee, cappuccino, food, etc. When she hired me I was under the impression I would be working in the coffee shop on campus. I was surprised when I showed up to work and found it was more a small cafeteria than a coffee shop, but figured it was the only position she had available. The senior employee I work with is Hispanic, and she’s very nice, efficient, and in her broken English explained to me the details of the job, much better than the young slacker I was first paired with.
Between both of their accents, I find it hard not to adopt some of their language, mainly using less words to express thing. Rather than saying “Do I need to go get more tomatoes for sandwiches,” which leaves both of them staring at me as they try to process what I’m saying, I find myself simply saying, “I get tomatoes.” I hope they don’t think I’m mocking their accents, but it truly is easier to communicate when they have to translate less.
Everyone had disappeared into the back and I was approached by a shy young girl, of Asian descent, who I finally figured out was asking me to give her a roll of quarters for a ten dollar bill. It took several minutes for both of us to understand. She wasn’t especially outgoing or confident, and her accent was very thick, but eventually I figured out that she worked at the coffee shop upstairs, also run by my boss. As she left I wondered why it seemed I ended up with the crappiest job out of the two. Don’t get me wrong, a job is a job, and staying physically active, meeting people and getting free food is nothing to complain about, but I couldn’t help but think that I was better qualified for the coffee shop job. At least I was better qualified at communicating with the general public. I don’t want it to sound like I feel I’m superior to the young girl, but, I really think I would be a better fit hustling people through the coffee line than working the slow shift in the cafeteria.
So why was I the one making sandwiches and standing around during the slow afternoons? And I realized the only difference between the others and myself was my age and my nationality. Unfair? Perhaps. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever felt discriminated against. And I’m not exactly sure what to make of it…

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August 21, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. It’s a feeling that I have lived with all my life. I was born in Buffalo New York the first of my family born outside of Puerto Rico. I speak English well but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I speak English well. It’s not a compliment because it comes with the feeling that the person who spoke those words was shocked. Trying living with the knowledge that you must be better at what ever you do just to prove yourself. Try walking into a store and have people follow you just because of how you look. This is my country too, but I have always felt like a minority welcome to the club.

    Comment by Maria Fuentes | August 21, 2011 | Reply


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