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Why sometimes I am late for work

Yesterday morning, Victoria’s babysitter was in a mood. I took off Victoria’s shoes and asked, “How are things?”

Ugh. Yesterday I was cleaning this house and I just sat down right there and thought, “What the hell am I doing in this bloody place?”

Where would you rather be?

There was a long pause and she sighed.

I want to go home. To my home.

I didn't say anything right away. Her home was British Guiana and it is no longer available as a destination. “Is it still a good home for you there?” was the most cautious phrasing I could come up with.

Oh, it is so beautiful there. And the people are good and they work. And you have your land and your house. When Alia visited, she cried when she had to come back here. You do not know.

You’re right about that. I was born right here and I’ve never lived anywhere else. I like it, but I don’t know how it is to live anywhere else.

This place. People are so lazy and greedy. What is there to like? Maybe if I came here from nothing, but I come from education. I come from property. I come from a fine family. You know, when Hali was little she brought home this form for me to fill out for school. Questions like “What have you accomplished since you came here?” “What have you learned?” I was so angry! They wanted to see people who came up from nothing, “Oh now I have a job and a home and la la la…” Well I put down exactly what I thought. I gave that teacher a piece of my mind. Hali took it to school and she got a 99 on that paper.

A 99! That’s something good about this country. Aren’t you glad you don’t live in a place where Hali might have turned in a paper like that and come home with her hands cut off?

I got her most baleful glare.

This country could use some decent punishments. Everybody gets away with everything here. I can tell you they would have hanged that Scott Peterson’s ass well before now if we were home!

Things actually went downhill fast from there. She has some really ugly thoughts and doesn’t mind sharing them with me. Anyway, it took a while before we reached a good stopping point. I skipped lunch to make up for being tardy and she was feeling better by the afternoon when I came to get Victoria.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2004 02:27 pm (UTC)
That's a lot of bitterness...
I hope she's not like that often. Did you have any issues leaving Victoria with her?
Aug. 19th, 2004 05:54 pm (UTC)
Re: That's a lot of bitterness...
None. I've seen no evidence that she burdens toddlers with her cares. When we first met, I was worried about her extreme un-PCness but we talk about it a lot and have agreed to disagree. She thinks I'm a kook. I think she's fantastic with kids.
Aug. 19th, 2004 07:49 pm (UTC)
It is an interesting perspective. I can understand her being frustrated--so often we perceive immigrants as downtrodden, oppressed folks who came here seeking a better life, especially if they are people we identify as being minorities. I don't know a whole lot about the history of British Guiana and of course I don't know the circumstances under which she came to America. But I do remember meeting a young Pakistani woman about 5 years ago. She was just completing her degree at Oberlin and was returning to Pakistan to teach. I believe she had been born in Pakistan, but lived for quite a while in the US even before she went to Oberlin. She was very excited and happy to be returning to Pakistan and I had a hard time understanding why she would even want to leave the States, surely things were better here. And she tried to explain it, but the best I could understand is that Pakistan was still home to her, she fit in there, she still didn't feel quite part of America.

It's too bad that your babysitter's prejudices are so apparent. While I sympathize, I think I would have a hard time dealing with her. I am not outspoken enough to call people out on their racism, but it makes me uncomfortable, so usually I just avoid people like that.
Aug. 19th, 2004 10:10 pm (UTC)
She thinks that her age and experiences entitle her to extrapolate grand theories from anecdotes (not always factual or first-hand ones, either). She does not mind being challenged; most people do. It's interesting to be able to ask someone about these things--usually they'd just clam up if they sensed I was not like-minded. I think I'm lucky to have met her.

She's got harsh words for grownups, but she's uniformly kind to kids. Some of her friends and relatives are from the same groups she rails about. Logic is not her strong suite, but I guess you could say that categorically of bigots.

She is unbelievably generous with her time and stuff. I had considered fleeing after our first couple months together, but I'm glad I didn't. It's not just that she's a fascinating character--which she is--but I am honestly fond of her. Even if she keeps me from getting to the office on time now and again.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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