Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Painful Truths Revealed Over Beef Lo Mein

I went to a Chinese food spot where I work a couple of nights ago to pick up some beef lo mein with a little bit of fried Rice for dinner with my partner. I hopped out of the driver’s seat of the squad (I always start the night off driving; that usually means that my partner will take the first call. Thus giving me time to eat said food while partner is typing up paperwork. I’ve got this thought out…) and asked my boy Fred if he wanted anything. He’s like “nah…I’m good,” so I stroll inside to place my order. (Aside: I have a thing about eating Chinese take out because I hate coming out of the place smelling like the food they’re cooking. I don’t know if anyone else has ever thought about this but this definitely weighs heavily on my decision whether to eat Chinese food on a particular night or not) I look up at the menu then place my order with the affable Asian lady behind the open counter.** Now, to get to the reason for this post: Off to the side, I saw a young Asian girl and boy sitting at a counter in the restaurant doing homework. This didn’t strike me as being particularly peculiar. What struck me was the fact that while she was doing homework, the Asian girl was also putting boxes together to hold the food and ringing customers up. The Asian boy was folding a stack plastic food covers right-side-in, in between doing HIS homework. I was like “Wow-these folks are on their grind FOR REAL.” I’ve noticed this a great deal in Chinese restaurants, neighborhood ’stop and go’s, etc where even the children are contributing to the efforts of making the place successful and STILL getting their schoolwork together. I looked at these folks and then I thought about the kids who I mentored in Chester over the summer who GOT PAID to be at a medical camp where they got job skills/training, CPR certification and an EMS bag with a free blood pressure cuff, stethescope and bandaging equipment. The whole time, most of them kept putting their heads down, complaining about being ‘tired,’ and giving a lot of the other counselors attitude. (Not me; cause have no problem judo chopping a teenager in they mouf) The contrast just really struck me-and not in a funny way either. I’m not knocking anybody else’s (esp. immigrants) hustle and drive…the whole thing just drove home the fact that people (esp. black folk) from this country better step their game up-or get replaced.

**If you inferred that this Chinese food spot was in the burbs, you would be correct. If you inferred that this spot was in the burbs because I said ‘Chinese food spot’ and ‘open-counter’ as opposed to ‘Chinese food spot’ and ‘Bulletproof glass,’ you might be from the hood. Collect 4 chicken wings and a pint of pork fried rice when you pass ‘Go.’

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