Wednesday, August 01, 2007

He Who Laughs Last....

Conversation Overheard at work:

Vendor 1: Ok, so bloody woman with a camel doesn't want what we have.

I realize with a shock that 'bloody woman with a camel' is a reference to me & no other.

There is laughter.

Vendor 2: Yes. She'd rather have something else. The question is do we want to build it?

Vendor 3: Bruce, she represents what? 20% of the world's oil reserves? I'd say yes!

More racist comments. More laughter.

I do NOT represent 20% of the world's oil reserves!

1) The client IS a governmental entity but they don't control any oil reserves.

2) They're not my client, they're a client of the organization I happen to work for. Am just the hired help.

3) We don't represent them. We don't represent anyone. We're not lawyers. We're just their IT Consultant/Project Manager.

So in addition to being racist, those 3 are clearly idiots. But then racists so often are, aren't they?

Back in the conference room, sitting across the table from those 3, am thinking to myself that I shouldn't be upset. No matter how much they may dislike me & my camel, they will do what the client wants. And on these issues at least, I get to say what the client wants.

Like it or not, they WILL jump through my hoops. And since they were stupid enough to let me overhear their opinion of me & my race, this 'bloody woman with a camel' is now resolved to do everything in her power to ensure that they will always have plenty of hoops to jump through while she watches & laughs...



Blogger Alina said...

Clearly idiots, but great attitude, Lou! I would have fantasized about killing them after severe torture in your place...For about 5 minutes. Than I would have smiled while "killing" them with my hoops :P

8/01/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Kick their asses, Lou Lou, and enjoy every minute while they squirm. They've definately earned it.

8/01/2007 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger programmer craig said...

They are British? They may not have been being deliberately racist. The English seem to have nothing but contempt for anyone who isn't. If those three had been contractors in the US the comments would have been about "Yanks", "McDonald's" and the size of the US economy or something like that. I've been in a lot of countries and I've never encountered anyone more nasty and unpleasant that British businessmen in Hong Kong. Especially when they've been drinking.

Not that I'm making excuses for them. I'm just saying it probably wasn't personal, and that they probably would have been talking smack wherever in the world they were.

8/02/2007 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger 2 B || ! 2 B ® said...

hehehe btw how is the camel :)

8/03/2007 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger Safiya said...

Programmer Craig - What!? I am British, so I can say you are talking utter rubbish.

For one thing, we are pretty much devoid of the "Our country is the best and always right" attitude so beloved of Americans. We believe that we've got the best sense of humour, but that's about all we think we're good at.

Also, the terms British and English are not interchangable. They mean very different things.

Whatever nationality they are, they sound vile and I sincerely hope you make them suffer.

8/03/2007 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger programmer craig said...


For one thing, we are pretty much devoid of the "Our country is the best and always right" attitude so beloved of Americans.

I'll have to disagree with you on that one. I've encountered British people in several "neutral" countries (although Hong Kong when it was a colony wasn't neutral, I guess) and I'll stand by my statement that I have never encountered more obnoxious people, of any nationality. I don't mean any offense to you, personally. I'm speaking in generalities. You're probably a nice person. I've never seen you say anything nasty on blogs.

I wonder, though, have often you have seen how your compatriots behave when they are in foreign countries? Especially businessmen on long term contracts abroad?

I've never been to Britain, but I've also encountered a number of British businessmen here in the US who were pretty thorny and unpleasant.

And I don't have a very high opinion of the conduct of British military personnel, either. And I spent months training with British Marines when I was in the USMC, so I've got some experience.

Also, the terms British and English are not interchangable. They mean very different things.

Yes. My apologies. When I say "British" I usually mean English. I have no problems with the Welsh, the Scots of the Irish. I should make that more clear. Thank you for the correction.

8/03/2007 03:18:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Well, they were English.

However, I tend to agree with Safiya that most English people I've met have been highly cynical about history, government & politics in general - particularly their own. And yes their sense of humor does tend to be very self-depracating.

I've met a few English Lefties who argued things like that the July London bombings were really their fault because of British colonialism or that Britain is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the ME etc....And this line of argument actually irritates me. So I have been in the position where I had to defend British actions to British citizens who thought they were defending Arabs/Muslims! A position I've never found myself in with ANYONE else - certainly not Americans or other Arabs who both have a serious problem recognizing their beloved country/culture/religion/empire may have ever done anything wrong in politics - now or EVER.

The impression I got from meeting English people and from reading English literature is that idealism in all forms - religious, patriotic etc...- is not very highly valued in English culture. The English pride themselves on their cynicism and lack of fervour.

Some of my English high school teachers seemed to believe that cynicism was a sign of civilization and would sometimes hint that we Arabs/Muslims are too idealistic, too passionate, too black-and-white, too religious and are therefore less civilized, that we needed time to 'develop' past these cultural idiosyncrasies before we reach our full potential.

They seemed to see it as part of their 'mission' to teach us cynicism & critical thought as well as whatever other subject they happened to be getting paid to teach. It IS a characteristic of the British system of education abroad.

This would have been more offensive, if they didn't exhibit the same attitude towards the Irish, the Scots, the Americans and a whole load of other peoples.

Was that racist of them? I don't know. It's not racist to form impressions about the characteristics of other cultures as you understand them. Or to believe you have a cultural advantage that others will benefit from & seek to impart it - provided you're ready to accept that others have a right to refuse to accept your pov if they see fit.

It is a thin line but I don't find it racist when people argue that Arabs are backward and lack the culture of self-criticism for example, because I know we do. It's the simple truth. But it IS racist for someone to call me a 'bloody woman with a camel' because :

1) I don't have a camel.
2) What is wrong with having a camel or being a Bedouin anyway? Why use that as an insult? That's not constructive criticism. It can't be said to be beneficial in anyway. It's just meant to belittle, dehumanize & insult.

8/06/2007 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger poshlemon said...

What is racism? Who defines it? What I may find as racist, you may not. And vice versa. As a matter of fact, we all have a bit of racism in us. The good thing about it as that we could work on it.

I have been living in London for almost 3 years now. I agree with Safiya and Loulou on all the points they've mentioned above.

As for racism, I honestly have never felt or received any racist inclinations or remarks.So far, I have been loving my stay in London and the Londoners have made me feel more than welcome. Sometimes I tend to forget what my origins are and actually start believing that I am an intrinsic part of the London society. That's the point: it's so easy to blend in London.

Actually, for someone who has never been to the UK it is really hard to understand or envision what I am talking about. However, London is a great mix of cultures where you'd find all communities and nationalities in this one city. Sometimes I'd meet people from countries I have never heard about. My geography has improved since I came to London!

However, racism exists everywhere and it would be too much to classify a race or a nation as 'racist'. If you had to, then I'd say the Brits (and I mean Brits all together) are the least racist.

Nevertheless, LouLou make sure you get back at them...indirectly. It's more fun ;)

8/06/2007 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Forsoothsayer said...

i grew up in the gulf, and i noticed that the english people there were particularly snooty (compared to the ones i knew in canada for example). hey, i'm going to london this weekend and i'll see for myself.

8/13/2007 03:59:00 PM  

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