Silent No More
Many years ago, Linda and I took a midnight flight from Philadelphia to Seattle. Somewhere over Indiana we were advised by the pilot that a passenger had taken seriously ill. Further, we learned that we were going to have to make an emergency landing in St. Louis where an ambulance was waiting to rush the stricken passenger to a nearby hospital. It was an unexpected interruption that all understood and accepted.
The airport, in the middle of the night, was dark, empty and silent. When we were advised that there was to be an unintended hour interruption before we resumed our flight, many of us looked for a place to grab a quick bite. We quickly learned that there was one hot dog stand that was still open and many of us headed for this little brightly lit Mecca. We were in luck. Three teenagers stood behind the counter to attend to the sixteen people who had lined up for a very rushed bit of nourishment.
Sad to say, the three employees were in no hurry to serve us. They joked around, told each other stories and discussed their weekend plans as we waited in line. We stood there watching the limited amount of time we had fly by as these youngsters dawdled and served us at a snail’s pace. It soon became obvious that the people past the middle of the line would never be served in time. As this realization occurred many of us became annoyed. In fact, the entire line became angry. Yet no one said a word. We all stood fuming, but mute.
Suddenly the twelfth passenger in line erupted. He was not going to stand there passively. He quickly got the three turtles moving. I had sat next to this man on the aircraft and in conversation learned that he was a Boeing engineer on his way back to Seattle. He was dressed impeccably in a light gray suit with a dark blue shirt and a red striped tie. He also carried a magnificent brief case. From my discussions with this gentleman it became obvious to me that he was bright, educated and “upper management.”
He blasted the three of them for being lazy, stupid fools who were not entitled to a job, yet alone a salary. I will not elaborate on the rest of his observations but I will mention that he closed his assault by telling them that if they didn’t get us out in time he was going to go behind the counter and place their “three black asses” on the griddle. That brief discussion did the trick. We all were served promptly and all were fed before we took off. As a side note, this man, a black man, could have been elected President if an election were held at that very moment.
Back on the plane I began to think about what had occurred. The line contained two Marines returning from combat duty during Desert Storm and three sailors on their way to a naval base north of Seattle. The sailors were about to board a nuclear submarine for a six month underwater tour. All five of these young men were willing to risk their lives for their nation, yet none stood up to object to what had occurred in the airport. Nor did I or the other members on the line.
Only one man stood tall. It became painfully obvious to me that all of us had stood passively because no one wanted to be branded racist. Our fear was simple, to question or be judgmental in this situation was a risk none were willing to take.
When we arrived in Seattle I mentioned the incident to my son. He just shook his head and ultimately informed me that I should get used to it because that was “what is happening in America.” I didn’t argue because deep down inside I knew he was right.
To continue, we had a wonderful time with our family. In fact we had such an enjoyable time that we decided to extend our trip some three days. When I called the airline to change our tickets I was informed that I would have to press one for English. This was my first experience with the “multicultural mentality.” I couldn’t understand why Seattle, which is almost totally white and Asian, should be faced with such nonsense.
When I mentioned this incident to my son, he just laughed and, once again, informed me I should get used to it because that was “what is happening in America.” I didn’t argue because deep down inside I knew he was right.
Back on the plane I had six uninterrupted hours to think about what I had experienced. Quite frankly I just didn’t get it. As a young kid I lived in a row home in Philadelphia. There were fifty-six homes on my block of “C” Street. In many ways it resembled the United Nations. My next door neighbors were from Bulgaria and Germany. My best friends were Johnny Esposito whose parents were from Italy and Eugene Polinsky whose family was from Poland. The short stop on our baseball team was Meril who was from China and his parents owned the Asian Restaurant on Broad Street. Other people on the block came from South America and we even had a family from France.
We shared more in common than just “C” Street. Our parents, none of whom (including my parents) were born in America. Yet, they all spoke some degree of English. Many had learned totally different alphabets, with different symbols and roots. Some of their native languages were read up and down or even backwards. Their vocabularies all were drastically different. Yet I could go into any home on the block, get fed by someone’s mom and communicate to some degree with just about every parent on the street.
The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became. I knew many people in business and the neighborhood who were of Latino origins. They were bright, industrious and part of the community. Their native tongue was closest to English. Their vocabulary was remarkably similar and their alphabet, etc. was very close. They were well integrated into the mainstream of our greater community.
Two days later, having arrived home, I mentioned my annoyance while having lunch with my partner. Guess what? He just smiled and called me Don Quixote. He told me to stop tilting windmills because that was “what was happening in America.” I didn’t argue because deep down inside I knew he was right.
For too many years I have observed what is happening silently. I have become desensitized to what is increasingly occurring. I have watched mainstream society and government veer off directions I find unbelievable. I could list pages of “stuff” that I believe should not “be.” Recent events have pushed me over the top. Colleges that ban Chick-fil-A and others that ban conservatives from making appearances on campus are wrong. Congress women who call the President a Mother****ker and comedians who identify governmental employees as c***ts should not be tolerated. I could go on. And I am sure that many of our readers could also add to this list of unacceptable behavior.
So for the coming year I have made a New Year Resolution. I will be silent no more. My annoyances have nothing to do with liberal or conservative ideas or political dogma. I don’t want to press one to speak English. Nor do I want to hear the “crap” some call language. I am going to battle for decency and morality. I will no longer accept the “get-used-to-it mentality.” I shall fight for what I believe is right. Hopefully others will do the same.
Your opinions are always welcomed.