In case you missed Part 1 <—That’s a link!
The drive back from Leeds was a delayed setback. We wanted to miss traffic, and as I mentioned before, we struggled to find pho. However, we did manage to find the most AMAZING fusion restaurant I’ve ever been to. I have never tasted such beautiful Indian food in my life–and it was all priced similarly to those in the very expensive village in which I currently reside.
I stuffed myself stupid as a result.
We decided to take a bit of a walk around just to let the food settle. I was fairly certain I was going to pass out on the drive back from food baby coma if we didn’t. My co-pilot-turned-pilot was a bit nervous about the idea, but agreed. As we walked, he let me know that it was there in Bradford that I was likely to get the most trouble for my American accent, and asked if I could tone it down at all. I’m still not quite sure how to do that other than make my horrible attempts at an English accent–which might not go down so well as people might think I’m mocking them.
However, he went on to say that the area was one of the largest Muslim communities in Britain. This of course isn’t anything that bothers me at all. I respect their right to exist and that they need a place to live just as much as anyone else. And if they found a home in Britain, or their parents or grandparents–whoever–did similarly, then good on them. I really don’t care what anyone’s religious base is. I expressed this, but my co-pilot went on to explain that this was the place where the “Britain-grown extremists” were often raised. Thus, they might hear my accent and be want to start something with me.
I thought this to be an exaggeration. I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I rarely get any scuff for my accent, and when I do, I let the person express themselves and usually agree with what they have to say, as it usually has to do with government policies, and not me directly. I more often than not make a friend out of the experience. My co-pilot is a prime example. Not that he gave me any problems, mind you, but only that he’s not fond of American policies and tactics as well as the over-all cultural attitude (which is something we discuss at length as I try to tell him that the culture of the US can hardly be narrowed down to one thing). Yet here we are, thick as thieves after an eight-year friendship!
Eventually we got back in the cars and went to find a petrol station. I was surprised as I actually paid attention to the other drivers–and I don’t mean their actions as drivers, of course I always pay attention to that. But rather, the actual drivers themselves. I realized that I–we–were minorities in this area. Everyone was from the East. I realized that I’ve never been somewhere that I, a white woman, am the minority (unless you want to talk meetings in which case I’m one of the very few women, but that’s a different story). It was an interesting experience.
When we went inside to get a new light bulb for one of my headlights, there was some commotion at the counter. One man was demanding a refund from the clerk. Everyone in the shop aside from co-pilot and myself, was eastern. The man was yelling at the clerk that he was a bad Muslim, that he should go kill himself. The clerks, obviously used to such people who were jerks for the sake of being jerks, weren’t phased. They told him to leave and not come back, and asked for the next person in line.
It was interesting the assumptions that were put on one another, and the expectations. Where I currently live, everything is so small that the only conflict you come across is generally the result of too much drink. At home, in the States, it’s rare that I see these things because the town I live in is just so hippie that no one takes offense at another persons’ differences. However, this situation was a compilation of sameness, and holding others to an expectation of sameness, regardless of their employment roll. The man expected a refund simply because they were of the same faith, and those behind the tills were deflecting because that is their roll as gas station clerks.
This is where people go wrong–regardless of background, regardless of race, regardless of anything else. People have expectations of other people that only fit within their realm of reality, and don’t consider if it’s outside the other person’s realm of possibility due to their own reality. As a result, conflicts hurt. There’s too much expectation and a lack of empathy, of extension of self into another person’s shoes.
The result is hostility, hurt, anger, and sometimes violence.