When you sit at a restaurant you never expect the person serving you to start talking about race… but then sometimes you have no choice in the matter.
Sitting with some people I barely know I encountered a very uneasy situation, racism at my table… check please!
The perpetrator was a person that is half Hawaiian half Cuban. Sitting with me is a family that is Mexican American and they have with them their little girls. I am Colombian, and if you have been around Hispanic people at all you would be able to tell that I am not Mexican just by the way I speak Spanish. I have a completely different accent.
While I would have been just as bothered by the situation, it made it even more uncomfortable when there was Mexican people at the table and here comes the story that I would have never believed unless I was part of it. The waiter that had to be in his early 20′s start making small talk like most people do in this situation. He asks where I am from, at this point I am not sure if he is interested on my tattoo with the Colombian flag on it or if he heard me speak Spanish with a different accent. I reply that I am Colombian and wait to see if he asks the rest of the people at the table what their nationality is. I then ask him where he is from. If I had to guess I would have originally though he was from the Philippines, but he surprised me by saying that he was half Hawaiian half Cuban.
He spoke about the places he had visited and started to just trash Cuba. Mind you, I have Cubans that are very close to my, my Great uncle’s wife and mother in law are two people that I care for a lot. He was really talking about Cuba, which he had visited, as a place where only crooks lived. I understand the economic situation in the place, but man, I have never heard a Cuban speak so badly of Cubans as a group… Fidel maybe, but generalize that way.
I was amazed by his words so far, but then he dropped a bomb that I was not expecting. He actually said “I hate Mexicans.” Almost choking on my food, I do a double take and wait to see if he is just kidding… but he is not, he started to talk about how some Mexicans that were his neighbors broke into his brothers car. What happened next was almost amusing… I felt like I was in the middle of a TV show from hell.
Presenting, the idiot that refuses to take the lifesaver. I said very politely, you cannot judge a whole group of people by what some people do. While your experiences with Mexicans might have been negative, they are not all the same. Nope, he did not take the help. He not only reiterated, but just refused to back down from his attitude of Mexican people just being thugs.
I sent the second life saver, I said, “You don’t know if the rest of the people sitting here are Mexican.” Again like if nothing had happened he started to talk about the Mexican gang the Latin Kings. I then gave him his last chance, I told him, “Hey, my brother in law is Mexican, and I have several other family members that are Mexican.” He completely ignored what I said… and I was just baffled.
I am not sure what was going through the guys mind… did he think it was ok because of the setting? a more upscale restaurant. Did he think that because we had kids at the table he was not going to instigate retaliation? I did hold back quite a bit because there was kids around. Did he just not care about what his statements meant?
This is a free country, and people are allowed to speak their minds. How would you handle it if someone starts just completely putting down your race, ethnicity or creed? Do you then say something to the owner of the establishment and have the person fired?
As the waiter left the table the other guy looks at me and tells me, “that jackass almost ruined my appetite… he just would not shut up.” I then though, maybe the guy was just having a bad day and really did not know any better. The last words I said to him were “I wish people saw beyond just races, because there are ass holes in every single race I’ve met.”