Monday, April 09, 2007

The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.

One of my favourite cartoons (I've carried it around for years, stuck it with a magnet to so many fridges) shows a rhinoceros sitting at a bar with a man, and the rhino is saying "Yeah, I'm a rhinoceros. So what? Jesus! Why do people always have to categorize each other!" (Maybe I'll scan it and post it tonight.)

I believe that we all make (correct and incorrect) assumptions about people because it's how we're wired, and it's part of a rudimentary process of differentiating. Assumptions are just part of drawing temporary conclusions based on incomplete information. I think the true test lies in how seriously you take your assumptions, how rigid they are, how willing you are to take in new information, how willing you are to make revisions, break it down, build up your limited understanding of actual individuals, frequently revisit, re-check, let it be fluid and open, let yourself be surprised and proven wrong.

I have some random Irish travellers from Dublin staying with me. They are making their way across Canada, and are just renting a room in my house for the month. I like them tremendously. They'd stay in town longer if they could find work, but the job hunt hasn't been going well, despite excellent CVs (widely distributed) and a willingness to work (sincerely expressed). Plus, they're sweet and hilarious.

My town is jammed with so-called Irish pubs with "help wanted" signs in their windows. Dear Reader, if you ran an Irish pub, wouldn't you want to hire charming, responsible, GENUINE Irish people (with bar experience!) from Dublin to work for you and chat with customers? But no offers yet, if you can believe it. Not even a call-back. Perhaps there is another problem working against them. At one Irish pub, for example, the manager actually said, "That's an interesting accent, where are you from?"

But really, is it just that there are no jobs? Is it that business owners are reluctant to hire travellers who are just passing through and have no ties to the place? Please assure me that it's not some shameful vestige of the old "No Irish Need Apply" policy, some back-of-the-mind suspicion that there's a higher-than-usual risk that an Irish employee will be an irresponsible hooligan? Are my pals being lumped into the "good ol' green, pig under one arm, bowler hatted, fighting in the car park, shamrock/leprechaun"* corral?

Because that's certainly what I did to them. I'm always correcting their pronunciation of English and hiding my booze from them and asking them to dance a jig for me. Come on, just one little jig.

* Can't take credit for that nugget, it's from my friend "Peaches" and his clever little brain.


At April 09, 2007 4:33 p.m., Blogger Hooker said...

On Friday the woman at the front desk brought the new hire into our office to introduce her. The girl stood at my height or maybe taller (at the least 6'3" 4") and is pasty and short haired. She didn't give the girls name. We all waved hi and that was that.

Earlier today I walked past the desk and the new girl piped up enthusiastically "How're ye doin?" in a slight Irish brogue.

I was so taken aback that I said "good hows it and how are you?"


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