Opening Lines

I was grocery shopping yesterday evening and about to approach the butcher stand in the supermarket when a man approached me from behind. He said: “You walk like Aborigines.” And he went on demonstrating how I walked. I said to him: “Because maybe I am.” He said: “I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure you’re a Filipino.” “How can you be sure?” I asked. He told me it’s the strong contours of my face that betrayed my ethnic origin. Okay then I said and walked away.

He approached me again at the vegetables stand asking how long I’ve been living in the country. I said to him almost thirty years. He (deliberately) misheard what I said to maybe prolong the conversation. Thirteen? He asked. No, I said. I live here 29 years. “Then you must be fully integrated and established already.” “Yes I am.” I confirmed and left.

I thought that was the end of it but he kept following me around. At the dairy aisle D. noticed him looking at me like (his own words) he is raping and ravishing me in his mind. I had no choice but to relate to D. what had occurred at the butcher counter and to my surprise D. reacted quite the opposite of what I used to expect from him. He was furious! And started walking towards the guy who seemed to be waiting for just that to happen. I grabbed D.s arm in time and marched him to the opposite direction away from the man but he kept struggling out my grip saying he just wanted to talk to the guy, ask him what’s wrong. I said to D. Not all war is worth fighting for. He has to learn to recognize a hopeless situation when he sees one. I told him to look at that person and say to me honestly if he’s really worth the trouble.

The guy must be around forty, overweight, wearing a 3/4th and a t-shirt which is too small for his size, and clogs on his feet. He can use a shower too. And to top it all he was shopping with his mother. By the look of it, he still living at home. Plus he can beat D. to a pulp in a second. His forearm is the size of D’s leg. I don’t see any use of getting in a row with this type of people. Avoiding them (until you can’t anymore) is the best thing to do. I can imagine he is frustrated with his life and looking for some diversion and I happened to be in his path and think I was an easy prey. He must have watched some of those documentaries about us and believe them with all his heart. He reminds me of a woman I encountered by the pool last week in Menorca. She said her son is thirty five years old, single and still living at home. She wants to send him to my country so he can fetch a wife in no time. I didn’t correct her misplaced (insulting and generalized) assumption because trying to educate one track narrow minded stupid people is a losing battle. It is a waste of time and energy.

I managed to keep D away from the guy and bought him some sweet pastry to calm his nerves (joke) and came home without nasty incidents. I have no idea what prompted the guy to approach me and what was the reason behind his actions. All I know is that episode added to my long list of reasons why I want to be an island. Away from everyone. Self- sufficient and free. 

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14 thoughts on “Opening Lines”

  1. What an unfortunate incident! I don’t blame you for your desire to be an island. What gives people the right to say stuff like that? On the other side of it, being a small guy myself I sometimes have had to step away feebly from altercations because I’m a small guy. I’ve had to tell my wife when she is getting into it with someone to make her point and end it if there is another guy involved. If I had to intervene physically I of course would, but its better to defuse the situation and not go down that road. By the way, nice to see you back!

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    1. There is a time and place to stand up and shout so people can hear you. But the situation yesterday was not one of those. I witnessed small guys beat up much bigger guys but if I’m going that road, it is better be for a good reason. Nice to see you again Robert.

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      1. Agreed. Sometimes its best to let it go with the knowledge that you are the better person. There is an expression in the American south-‘Bless Your Heart’. Now, it can be said in a pleasant and literal way, but most often, when someone is acting dumb and you say oh Bless Their Heart, you are really calling them a rather silly and misguided person. So if you see that idiot in the store ever again, just say Bless Your Heart and smile 🙂

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      1. I’m sorry to hear that. I worked with a Filipino woman years ago who was (bear with me here) incredibly difficult, and every time she was confronted with a problem she’d say, “well, that’s the way did it in the Philippines.” Turns out there may have been some cultural misunderstandings, but basically, she was not an easy person to work with in any country. Still, I took what she said to heart and I admit, I had some prejudices until one day I said, “a lot of that doesn’t make sense.” I then worked with a woman whose husband was from Manila, and he and I had a long talk and sorted through so much. It was eye-opening for both of us, and some of my co-workers, to see how easy it is to allow ourselves to buy into lies and prejudices, and also to get a better understanding about what “cultural differences” really mean.

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      2. An open minded person (from any cultural background) must be prepare to adjust and adapt in any situation and understand that people from different places and upbringing behave differently. She or he have to realize that we cannot expect others to behave like us. That life is a never ending learning process. Best to have an open mind, patience and the ability to realize that we cannot always please everybody.

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      3. You’re absolutely right. Even between regions of the United States, there are cultural differences that lead to great misunderstanding. What’s honest and straightforward in northern states is rude and abrasive in parts of the South.

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      4. Oops, meant to write more, but maybe I should pull it together for a blog post! Anyway, I’m deeply sorry for the pain of both blatant and subtle bigotry that you face.

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