them - me - you


As predicted, when the plumber did actually come to fix the timer on the boiler, conversation was full of anti-immigrants prejudice and racism. He had told me his family had moved to Australia and that he was hoping to move to the US. I pointed that that he wants to move for a better life and that actually, if you want to look at it that way, I'm also an economic migrant.

He said yes, but he wasn't talking about Commonwealth migration. That kind of migration brings skills to the country, according to him. I said, migration always does, no matter the colour of the skin. He said his problem was really with all the "Bosnians". He said something about 70% but I don't know what. He also claimed that they are on the fiddle - he knows - he goes into their homes.

Just then the doorbell rang: a friend who happens to be black - which put an end to conversation. I didn't have time to respond, how can a plumber know anything about any given household except whether their pipes are working? All the time I meet tradesmen and professionals who think they have insight into a community just because they provide a service to them. They get the slightest view of life for that person and suddenly they think they know everything... without one word of actual conversation passing between them. I mean I find it hard enough talking to them, and I know I'm not alone... and even when I do, it's not conversation I have usually. More like banter or just agreeing with them to get them out of the house quickly.

D mentioned that I would have to write about him in my diary because I had been reduced to 'Australian' throughout the bit of talk she overheard. It was all Australian this, Australian that, like I wasn't a person outside of that part of my identity. I said to her that I already had loads of stuff from him that was I going write about anyway.

But it's funny, I didn't even notice the Australian thing and I wouldn't have written about it had she not mentioned it.

Later when she was leaving, the lift came up and we were saying good bye and my downstairs neighbour poppped her head out of the lift and waved and said hi. I introduced D to her, saying she's Somali too!
Wierd that I did that. I wouldn't normally introduce people in that way, not people who are just going to share a 10 second lift journey together and never see each other again. I think I did it for my neighbour, not thinking about D, wanting to show her that I was a 'good guy' in some way, for some reason... I don't know.
How's that? - I completely reduced D to one small part of her whole identity with one quick stroke.

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