Contrasting racial experiences

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A couple of months ago I had to go to London. While queueing for my bus home a black girl joined the queue behind me but then soon went to the front of the queue to ask the driver something. When she rejoined the queue it wasn’t behind me but near the front of the queue, next to a young black youth who she got talking to. Ah, maybe they know each other, I thought. However, it soon became clear that they didn’t. She just wanted to make sure she got on the bus first to get a good seat. I had a good mind to sit next to her when I got on the bus, just to spoil her day.

After arriving back in Leicester I queued for a double-decker bus back to my village. A young black man walked to the front of the queue, ignoring the long line of people already standing there. I wasn’t going to let him in front of me but there was nothing I could do stop him pushing in directly behind me. He was young, strong, and looked like he was just waiting for someone to say something. I wasn’t going to oblige: I’m small, nearly 60 and not a fighter. I sat downstairs and he went upstairs.

Ten minutes later someone upstairs pushed the button to request the next stop. The bus came to a standstill and we all waited. Slowly the King of the Bus made his way downstairs, took his time as he swaggered to the front and leisurely swung himself out onto the pavement and into the night, without the ‘Thanks’ to the driver that most people manage. These two incidents are commonplace in today’s multicultural Britain.

Yet today was quite different. I had to go for an MRI scan at the local hospital. The technician who performed the scan was of West Indian origin with a broad accent that was occasionally hard to understand. However, he was friendly, efficient, found my vein without any messing around and generally made the whole experience as quick and pleasant as possible.

On my way out I stopped by the main entrance of the hospital to put on my jacket and while doing so watched the two female receptionists, one black, one white, directing people to where they needed to go. The young black woman was striking in her looks. She was pretty and had an expressive, friendly face, totally unlike the slightly dead-pan faces you sometimes see on some public sector workers who deal with the public every day. She smiled at everyone she dealt with, listened attentively to what they said and was even mildly entertained rather than annoyed when a confused old lady didn’t get the first time where she was supposed to go. The black woman watched her toddle away with a look of genuine warmth.

So, two very different days. Some people say that these helpful black hospital workers should be in their own countries, helping to raise those countries out of poverty, and I have some sympathy with this point of view. I mean, how else are the countries going to improve if their best people keep coming to us?

On the other hand, the good that such individuals could do in Third World countries would very quickly get swamped by the general awfulness of those places. It would be like a dinghy trying to turn an oil tanker around. And it must be utterly soul-destroying to know that any positive impact you make towards the betterment of your country only goes to line the pockets of corrupt politicians and their family members.

So what am I saying? Just that I’m more than happy to have those two nice hospital workers here in Britain but much less so that those two ignorant queue-jumpers are here.

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