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Different But The Same

Different But The Same


Hello and good day!

The security guard in the center where one of our chocolate shops is located is taking a new job.We've become buddies over the last year, and I will miss him. He's moving on for two reasons.

One, he doesn't think the owners of the center appreciate him. He feels taken for granted. You may not think a mall security guard is important. There have even been parody movies made about the position, namely Paul Blart, Mall Cop. It is an incorrect assumption.Mall security is essential to the shopping experience.

A mall is a dynamic place. There is a lot of humanity all gathered together in a tight area. It is an ideal set up for ne'er do wells to run wild.

In fact, I was just recently cussed out by a buff, tatted up, knucklehead. Several of these jerks were driving around together in a big, loud pickup truck. They were rumbling through our center yelling at shoppers as they drove by.

I stepped out into the road to see what the problem was. One of these muscle-bound fellows stuck his head out the window and unloaded on me. I'll spare you the specifics of what he said because it was extremely offensive.

I have thick skin and he didn't hurt my feelings. But he did call my free hot chocolate sign stupid and I assure you that it will be a long time coming before I forgive him that comment.

Anyhow, this group was in the center to do their banking. Can you imagine? They're cussing and yelling and intimidating and then they have to park and walk into a bank. One guy went in and the other four milled outside on the mall sidewalk, leaning up against the bank's exterior wall. They were strong, loud, erratic men, with obviously skewed moral compasses.

The people who had to walk by them were scared. They continued to hoot and holler and cause commotion. I looked around, wondering when my friend would show up on the scene. Sure enough, he came ambling around the corner, and walked straight towards the problem.

The sheriff was in town. It was one against four. I watched from a distance. I had already called the police, but they told me that it didn't qualify as an emergency, and they'd come when their schedule permitted.

My pal approached. The four roughnecks stopped leaning against the wall and stood up straight, in aggressive postures. They looked like they might jump him.But the security guard is 6'6" tall and weighs four hundred pounds, so they had to measure him before attacking.

And then something curious happened. After a brief conversation the fellows nodded and quietly climbed back into their truck.   They rolled up their windows and sat in the car until their cohort finished banking. The fifth guy came out and they drove off. I've never seen people like that in our city before. I believe they must have just been passing through.

I met my friend's replacement yesterday. He was on site for training. I don't feel confident that he can talk down a group of rowdy men the way my buddy did.

Now on to the second reason why my friend is leaving. He doesn't feel comfortable in our neighborhood. The city of Issaquah is a middle to upper middle-class place. By no means would I describe it as very rich or abnormally affluent. Most people have decent jobs and are decently well off. A lot of people around here work tech jobs that pay well, but they don't pay outrageously well. We have a very diverse population.

There is a calm, peaceful, small town feel that pervades much of life around here. Despite all that, my friend feels that he is the wrong race and that he makes people uncomfortable. Again, he is a very large man. And he feels that his size plus the melanin in his skin make him an outsider.

He's tired of seeing eyes widen when he approaches. He's tired of nobody wanting to make eye contact with him. He's tired of conversations hushing when he walks by. He's tired of gawking.

I can relate to all of this. I go through it almost every time I travel to Peru. In Lima, you're fine. But in the little town my wife is from, I am strange eye candy.

I was one of the only white kids in my neighborhood growing up. My parents shipped me off to school in a more highly rated school district. I felt I didn't belong in either place. I didn't live amongst my school friends, and I was racially different from my neighborhood friends. I see where my buddy is coming from.

It is natural to want to be around your own kind. You share cultural heritage. There is implicit understanding among community members. However, there is one problem with self-isolating.

You miss out on a lot of the variety that can make life so wonderful. I mentioned that to my friend. I pointed out that he is going to be sacrificing some of the perspective that he otherwise would have gained by working around people with diverse backgrounds. He acknowledged that but said he wants to be around his own people for a while.

And so, we'll be losing a good person in the center.

The lesson from all of this is to treat everybody exactly the same. It doesn't matter how a person looks. It only matters how they act. As long as a person is kind and respectful, you should treat them with all the manners and dignity you can muster.

I promise you that on the inside, we are all the same. We all have feelings that can be hurt. Nobody wants to feel like a freak of nature. We all want to fit in and be appreciated by our peers. We all want somebody to see and acknowledge our unique qualities.None of us wants to be treated in a way that makes us suspect ulterior motives. Nobody likes to feel that their appearance or accent is the primary driver of behavior towards them.

Hopefully I'll cross paths with my friend again down the line.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!