No Excuses For Bigotry

| Friendly | April 27, 2017

(Two friends and I work in a restaurant, located at the ground floor of a large office building that has been empty except for our restaurant for years. The city decides to convert it into semi-permanent homes for refugees. This has caused some public discussion since most refugee homes are in old military buildings or further away from town, while this one is right in the middle of the city and in a somewhat expensive housing area. A lot of right-leaning people have complained about refugees ‘stealing good homes’ from locals. After they’ve finished renovating and furnishing the building, there is an open-door day where the Red Cross workers who’ll be working with the refugees give tours to anyone interested. My coworkers and I decide to go, and we get stuck on our tour with an old lady who is clearly not liking this whole idea. On top of that, our tour guide is the Turkish-German translator of the team, a young woman in a headscarf and very modest clothing, and a bit shy. The old lady questions everything the guide shows us, and complains non-stop. We try to help by rebuffing most of her comments and being very supportive of the info the guide gives us, but at the end of the tour we’ve had enough.)

Old Lady: “Hmpfh, well, I still don’t know. I don’t think ‘those’ people should be moving right into the middle of the city.”

Me: *clearly a bit too sarcastic* “You think we should treat them like lepers and banish them from town, then?”

Old Lady: “No! I just, I mean… If there’s families moving in, there’s nowhere for the kids to play.”

Friend #1: “Actually, there’s a park two streets away, and it’s only five minutes to the riverbank with lots of green spaces.”

Old Lady: “Uhm, well, there’s only very expensive supermarkets around. They won’t be able to afford that.”

Me: “There’s [Discounter #1] and [Discounter #2] just at the next block.”

Old Lady: “Then what about the noise? This is a very busy street, you know!”

Friend #2: “Yes, I’m sure the street is much more noisy than the war-torn place they’ve fled from, or the overstuffed refugee camps they’re all stuck in.”

Old Lady: “I don’t know. I just don’t know. I wonder what the poor people from the restaurant downstairs are saying, having these people move in right above them! They’ll constantly have to deal with them! I’m sure they aren’t happy.”

Me: *shows my name badge with the restaurant’s logo* “We’re actually pretty happy to help them.”

Friends #1 & #2: *show off their badges as well*

(The old lady just stuttered and left as quickly as she could, brushing past our guide, who couldn’t help but laugh a bit when she was gone. This was a few weeks ago. The refugees have happily moved in, and the Red Cross team have been regular customers at our restaurant.)

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