605: No, thank YOU

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I am so dreadfully sorry that I was in conversation with my husband, and neglected to notice that you held the door for us to enter the establishment. I am sure my error was compounded in triplicate because you are black and I am white. I can assure you it wasn’t intentional, nor do I expect such service from strangers, or black people in particular. Neither my husband or I am visibly handicapped, so you offered (of your own volition) to hold the door which you could clearly see we were capable of opening ourselves. That was both courteous, and kind of you.

What wasn’t, was your announcement in overly loud voice of that sarcastic “You’re WELCOME” when we neglected to immediately and profusely thank you ourselves for your kind (and unnecessary) gesture. Believe me, your deliberate rudeness put our unintentional forgetfulness squarely even and then some.

Why bother to offer a kindness (necessary or not) if all you are after is the public notice of your nobleness? And your conduct when you didn’t get your thanks (for whatever reason) certainly left us both with a clear impression of your “nobleness,” didn’t it?

Yes, it is our usual habit to acknowledge such a gesture with spoken thanks. Yes, we were engaged in our conversation, and we forgot to thank you. I don’t believe I have lowered myself to that level when my polite gestures have gone unrewarded and unnoticed, and if I ever have, I am thoroughly and utterly ashamed of myself.

399: Waffle House and Children

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Waffle House is an American (mostly, but not completely, Southern) diner. It is plain, simple, and honest. The people who generally go there are two kinds; working people who need a filling, inexpensive meal (blue collar) and people looking for the authentic diner experience (white collar).

Waffle House has the real ambiance of the American diner. There are booths at either end of the small diner, and a bar in the middle which is located in front of the grill. Restrooms and office rooms are at one end or the other of the place. The format of the places is so similar that frequent customers feel instantly at home, even if it is a location they have never been to before. That is part of the charm, if such a word is not totally inappropriate when discussing this restaurant chain.

Plus, the menus still feature a picture of nearly every item they serve…which is so customers who cannot read can still order. Not kidding. No sensitivity training needed here. You can tell that by the variety of the clientele – Waffle House gets all kinds. And they all, for the most part, coexist peacefully. America in action.

I found Waffle House restaurants to be quite helpful when I was raising my small children. I took them there fairly frequently in order to practice going to restaurants. I do not include most fast food places in that category. They have no dinnerware, or cutlery, no glasses….and no wait staff.  You are not training a child to go to a restaurant in one of those places. Waffle House is different from fast food places, while still relaxed enough that you do not (usually) offend every single person in the place when you come in for a meal with two small children.

Waffle House has real people who wait on tables (OK, booths). Points to Waffle House. Waffle House also has real dishes. Plates, bowls, glasses, mugs (with SAUCERS), knives,  forks and spoons. Paper napkins, true, but they are THERE. Points to Waffle House. I can have my children practice being in a restaurant there, as close as I can get to the experience of a fancy place, that is still kid-friendly (and that I can afford).  I owe the fact that I was able to take my children out to eat at fancier restaurants while they were still small – and not be completely and totally embarrassed and asked to leave – to good, old, reliable Waffle House.

54: social classes

I am currently living and working in Morocco, a country in north Africa. Social classes here are fairly easy to determine. They are, just like back home in the United States, determined by education and wealth, just the same as nearly every other country I have visited: Italy, Greece, France, England, Barbados, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia, you get the picture. Humans are humans, regardless of location on this mudball we all call home. My question for pondering today is why are education and wealth the determining factors in social status? Why not age, like I have heard is important in Asian cultures? Surely a wise old grandma or grandpa is deserving of honor and respect, at least more so that some teen idol who sang a song that sold a million copies, right? Sadly, not.

Here in Morocco, like in a number of the other places I have visited, I am marked as a wealthy non-native by the color of my skin and my conspicuous non-Muslim dress. Because of this, I am instantly perceived as a wealthy person of rank. This would be amusing if it were not so embarassing. Even when I do choose to conform and wear a djellabah, the long, concealing robe-like garment of the traditional Moroccan woman, I still manage to “look wrong,” and am pretty quickly singled out as an American, or an European.  That means when I ask, in Arabic, “B’ShHall?” meaning ‘How much?’ I will be usually quoted a price that is inflated enough to ensure a really good profit, but hopefully not too much to make me shake my head and walk away – which I do a LOT, because I am not a rich American, I am a relatively poor one. My local merchants have finally learned that I am a regular, and so I am beginning to hear the same prices that are quoted to everybody else. Just because my skin is white does not put more spendable dirhams into my pockets, despite the common perception here to the contrary.

Yes, I am educated, probably far beyond my common sense. That is because I had a wonderful government (back in the day) that actually wanted its citizens to be college educated, and was willing to subsidize that effort, so I was able to graduate without undue financial strain on my lower-middle class family. My own two children, unlike my experience, are struggling, as am I in helping them, to pay for tuition in order to finish college. This is so, of course, that my children will possess all of the advantages that I had due to my own collegiate education (not too sure what all of those were, but I am sure that there actually were a few, at least). And, I am aware that the education I got allowed me to take a job that was fairly advantageous, compared to jobs that did not require those collegiate hoop-jumps. I hoop-jumped my way into a career as a teacher, which is the highest paying regular job I know of that allows you nearly four months off a year- with pay. That makes it an OK job, since every job I know of does also come with drawbacks, too. Being a teacher certainly does not enhance my social status, however, regardless of my white skin or my education, because it does not pay enough to elevate me into the respected ranks of the wealthy. I am middling well-off, not wealthy. There are a lot of skilled tradespeople who earn far more annually than I do, as an educated career person.  Hired a plumber lately? Or an electrician? THERE is a good-paying job! What apparently keeps THEM out of the ranks of the higher social classes is the lack of collegiate diplomas, because they certainly earn more than I do.

Why is money and education the benchmark of a higher social class? Of respect? I know lots of educated people that are absolute idiots when it comes to common sense. Look at all of them who elected Barak Obama, for a prime example. I know the hallmark of a civilized society is how it cares for its least able citizens, but, come on, people! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Neal Boortz, who is Not exactly my favorite person, published an editorial about becoming a well-to-do person. There are three rules. The first is get an education. The second is don’t get pregnant (father a child) before you get marrried. The third is find a job, any job, and keep it until you find another one that pays better.  You can read it for yourself at :

http://www.boortz.com/weblogs/nealz-nuze/2012/jan/17/poverty-matter-choice/