Bringing out the prejudices

People’s everyday prejudices seep out in strange places. No matter where, it’s always startles me.

I was going somewhere the other day, taking the elevator instead of stairs. A lady with a dark skin stepped in, and pressed a button to get herself to one of the floors. It seems the elevator goes directly to the place she was going to, and the office was not open yet, hence the elevator button did not work (yet). The lady seemed confused, and started a conversation in Finnish about the opening hours.

I answered in Finnish, explaining what I thought was the case. Somebody else was in the elevator, too, and after my explanation the person started explaining the same stuff in English.

I don’t think the lady with dark skin understood English. But she did understand and speak Finnish.

I sighed on the inside. The things we do just out of pure stupidity, thoughtlessness and lack of sensitivity. Just think about it. Why on earth would you start a conversation in English?

To my shame, I’ve been in a similar situation some five years ago. I was working as an election assistant, and a man with dark skin came to vote. I was the first contact, checking ID and right to vote from a long list of names. And I started the conversation with the man in English without even blinking.

The man looked at me as he took out his wallet and ID. Then he slowly said, with a low voice and in fluent Finnish: shall we keep the conversation in Finnish as we are in Finland? I stared at him for a second or two in awe, realizing my behaviour with a growing sense of guilt and shame. I apologized in Finnish, thanked him for pointing it out, checked his ID and hurried to check the papers of the next person in line. Learned my lesson.

The event came back to my mind after the incident in the elevator. And when I was walking my dog the other day.

For reasons not explained any further here, I speak English and German to my dog. Surely sounds funny most of the time, but in certain situations, just makes it worse. To my horror and shame, my dog inexplicably barks at people with dark skin. She also barks at people wearing hats, carrying large bags or wearing sunglasses. But still.

The other day I was walking with the dog, and a guy with a dark skin, maybe in his mid twenties, was walking towards us, clearly heading for a sports training or similar. The dog started to bark. I scolded the dog in English, and without realizing it, apologized to the guy…in English.

Oh the walk of shame.

♥ In the meantime: today’s laughs came from these hilarious signs. As said so many times before, people are just great, witty and funny. Stop. Hammertime!

♣ Song of the day: Irma Thomas, You can think twice

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