1 Mar 2008

I am a race victim

I hate to think I was a victim of racist thinking yesterday, but I can't see it any other way. Maybe someone else can offer a different viewpoint.

Yesterday I had occasion to go to the City Council's local neighbourhood office to drop off some paperwork. I am there at 8:45 AM, knowing the office opens at 9:00 AM.

I'm first in line, standing in 7°C cold winds, trying to wait patiently until the office opens. I confess I didn't call in at work to say I would be late, and I was supposed to be there at 8:30 AM, but heck, I thought since I'm free for the morning it would be okay. Yesterday was the last day to meet the deadline for next month anyway; and yes, I had to wait until yesterday to do it because I had to wait on paperwork from other people to complete mine so I wasn't being delinquent.

Nevertheless, while I am waiting I am concerned that by being late, I am actually stealing time I am being paid for (I'm conscientious thataway).

Two persons join me, a young black (read Negro) woman and an old man black (read Negro) who may be in his late 60's.

Office opens at 9:05 AM. I explain to the young black woman (read Negro) named Helen (on name tag) at reception that I am there to drop off some paperwork. I am booked in the first appointment slot and told to wait to see a rep. Okay, I am concerned how much later I am going to be, after all I am stealing time here.

During the next 30 or so minutes, I am observing staff strolling in, as if they worked in Trinidad. Every one young, black (read Negro). This is an observation here, eh, for those of you who think I am picking on black (read Negro) people. This 30 minutes or so is spent on getting coffee or tea according to drinking preferences, and catching up with what happened to each and everyone they know from the time they left the office till they arrived to the office. The women are using miniature mirrors to primp and arrange hair, makeup etc. I'm still waiting.

4 other persons come in, 3 of whom have the same paper work as me (colour coded specific forms). 2 are black (read Negro) and 1 white (read British Caucasian). They explain the reasons they are there (same as me apparently - small office, I can overhear everything). I am the only Indian, except for a staff member named Ousman, whom I met previously.

At 9:33 AM I am seeing the 4 persons who came in after being called up and served... all by black (read Negro) members of staff. Now I started getting pissed, and paranoid. Am I being passed over because of my race here? I am not sure what to think.

A full 45 minutes after I arrive, Ousman sees me and calls me over, takes my paperwork, processes it there and then, gave me a receipt and wishes me a good day... engages in small talk to find out I am working in his old school (this after he has done dealing with me), asks me to remind his old teachers about him, and off I went.

At 4:30 PM, I arrive home, just in the act of taking off my shoes when the phone rings. It's Ousman, calling after working hours because the office closes at 3:30 PM on a Friday. I forget to sign my paperwork.

He offers to be at the office at 8:00 AM on Monday for me to sign it, before I go to work. A full hour before it opens. I accept the offer with profuse thanks and a glow inside at this level of service.

I am all for office relaxation and comfortable working environment and all that, but these workers were neither professional nor even concerned about the quality of service they provided.

I don't think I am being paranoid when I say that I was a victim of race yesterday, and from the City Council of all organisations. I'm thinking of sending this blog to the Mayor as a complaint, because I am sure small incidents like this happens daily and no one bothers to protest. After all, it appears to be part of the daily routine.

I should fall on my knees and thank Ousman I am not more of a minority I think.