It was bad enough in the beginning, when I was diligently applying for Social work jobs. I called one agency up a few weeks after having sent in the application form, only to be quite bluntly told "we do not 'do' foreigners". At the time I laughed, because I was thinking that if a Social Work agency can openly display that level of blatant discrimination, then I probably just had a lucky escape from the 'job from hell', right????
I don't think the second agency had even read my application. I think they looked at the part that said 'foreign national' and tossed it to one side because when I finally plucked up enough courage to speak to them, they said "I am sorry, but we are unable to pursue applications from Mexicans"
MEXICANS......REALLY!!! Firstly, if she had bothered to read the application and listen to my accent, she would have realized that she was a good 5,000 miles off course on that score. Secondly, who bloody cares anyway??? A qualification is a qualification no matter which country it came from. Ok, so I might need some extra training around Social Work law in this country, but then the laws are different here from state to state. I could come from a town just 60 miles away in the state of Alabama and still have no clue how the Mississippi system works. It makes absolutely no sense!
So, pride in tatters, I resign myself to a life of dead end jobs, limited prospects and low pay. To be honest, I was not that bothered. Before I left England I had a job that I absolutely loved with people who could not have been any nicer if they tried. I don't think there will ever be another job like it. I left there on a high and I worry that if I take a similar role and don't enjoy it as much, it will somehow take away from the memory of it all. Right now, I think back on that time and smile.....and I want it to stay that way. (I miss you guys xx)
Anyway, I took the job I have now. Luckily got promoted twice in the space of six months and life really wasn't that bad.
That was until customers started picking up on my accent! Don't get me wrong......it's not all doom and gloom. The majority of my customers love to hear me talk (freaks!). All too often someone will come at me with their southern drawl saying "I could listen to you talk all day", or "ma'am, you talk so purdy". I am not rightly sure what 'purdy' is, but I take it as a compliment and hope for the best.
Then there are the customers from hell! The one or two who just love to tell me in no uncertain terms to "go home", to "get out of our Country" or to question why I am taking up all of 'their' jobs. I even had one lady (If you can call her that!) say "what brings 'you people' to our country?? Is it the Military??. You should all stay in the place you were born!". Hilarious!!!!!
People often ask me how I cope with all of this. The answer really is very simple.
I have three choices:
1) I could burst into tears, run and hide in the nearest bathroom only returning home under cover of darkness, never to be seen again. (In the early days I did actually think about this!)
2) I could claim the stress and depression of above mentioned discriminatory attitudes has caused a sudden onset explosive anger management problem. Rip every hair out of the scalps of such people and relocate their faces to the other sides of their heads. (Extremely tempting sometimes, but they still have the death penalty here in Mississippi and I fear that I will come off worse.......if not for extreme violence, then for being too British or some such thing!)
3) Recognise that knowledge is power and use it to your own advantage. (Love it....just my style)
So, what I know about America is that the first people to live in this country were actually Asian. They entered through Alaska and later became known as the American Indians. What I know about the few rude people I face regularly, is that they don't have no native American coloured skin going on. They are white.........so white, in fact, that they are probably more European than I could ever be. What I really ought to do is to suggest that they go study a little American history, then go and research their own family tree because it is very clear to me that these delightful individuals descended from someone who was also a "foreigner" at some point in time. I don't say this of course, as I am usually at work when these situations arise. But the knowledge makes me chuckle. If only they knew how uneducated and ignorant they really are!!! lol
What I also know about Americans is that the majority of them are very proud of their military for sacrificing life and limb, fighting to sustain the level of freedom they have and for keeping their country and everybody in it safe. Especially in this area, which has a rather large military community. Anybody not supportive of the military effort is kinda frowned upon. So, in the case of the 'Lady' who asked "what brought you to this Country?? Was it the Military??. My response (in a very loud voice) was "ma'am, it's good to hear that there are still people in society who appreciate the Military service and show their ongoing support to Military members and their families for allowing you to keep your freedoms and protecting your country. Have a nice day and be sure to come back and shop with us again soon." I watched the faces of at least 10 people within earshot drop. Then smirked to myself as I watched them send the dirty looks in her general direction.
So there you have it. I laugh because of it; I laugh in spite of it; and, I laugh some more at the stupidity of it. After all, laughter is the best medicine right???