Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Travels and Travails

My husband and I were in New Orleans last week, which is relevant to this blog because of the taxi ride to the airport. The story was that the driver showed up right on time, nice big air-conditioned van, and friendly, southern hospitality ("Get right in, baby, you'll be cool in there."). When she asked us the reason for our trip (which was to visit our daughter) and we mentioned that our daughter works at a small shop in the Quarter, the rant began.

"Ugh," she said, "that's the worst of it. Do you know what's going on down there this weekend?" We did know that there was a big music festival in town--the Essence Festival--with Beyonce as the headliner. We'd read about it, seen the crowds going to the convention center.

And then it was all "they" (with a snarl) and what "they" do--crowding the streets, eating and drinking, partying, being loud. Sounded pretty much like New Orleans all the time. But not to her. This was different, this was something even Houston wouldn't put up with (whatever that was supposed to mean). She seemed to have a particular complaint about the way "they" rock their cars back and forth, even pointing out that these were rental cars they rocked. Her seething monologue went on all the way to the airport. Scary.

A few weeks before that, my husband and I were visiting family in Detroit--people we hadn't seen in a number of years. And a cousin got off on a rant about another group of "theys," using an ugly term to describe them.

The content of both these rants, and the sense that everyone in the group being discussed could be gathered under the one label "they," that "they" were all alike in every respect, was disturbing enough. Even more disturbing, however, at least for me, was the assumption that all the gathered listeners would agree with and go along with the views and disdain. That the speaker felt completely comfortable in speaking this way. That he and she felt not the least bit tentative nor apologetic nor aware that others might feel otherwise.

For the purposes of this blog, I am going to make an assumption too--that all readers are at least making their best human attempt to view people as individuals whenever possible and to avoid grouping "Others" in negative ways. Say "amen" somebody.


Patry Francis said...

Amen. I had the same experience in a taxi in Rutland, Vermont some 30 years ago.

Sharon Finch said...

Amen. I have had this experience more times than I care to remember. Only in very recent years as the idea of political correctness stopped some of this. I don't think the basic viewpoints have changed that much.

Sharon Finch