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USA People Not Robots

USA People Not Robots

I try to be nice to people. I just intuitively (usually) act in a way that can be considered polite. My parents made sure that I was polite and respectful as a child and I did so automatically. . . probably just because my parents told me to. Now that I am a little older I learned a little of the real value of treating people with respect.

If you know a few points of respect, you can get along in any culture of the world.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- December 7, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos

So when I moved to Brooklyn I received a shock: people are oftentimes very rude and belittling to service employees. I was taken aback more than a few times while trying to get food from the cafeteria on Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus when I heard students speaking rudely to the workers who dish out gruel all day long. I have never dished out gruel before as a profession, but I am sure that it is not among the most enjoyable of jobs. It is my impression that the last thing that a gruel disher needs is some bone-headed adolescent punk speaking to them as if they are shit.

But it happened over and over again. The worst of any country can be found in mass within the bounds of its biggest cities.

In this dichotomy, I made sure that I spoke to the gruel dishing cafeteria employees with more respect than was probably necessary. I told a few jokes, said please, and tons of thank yous. Oftentimes I was given my gruel with a smile.

Today my meal plan ran out. I stretched a meager $350 meal plan through an entire semester of school with the help of a tote-bag. For every meal that was taken off of my meal plan, I carried two out in my royal blue tote-bag. So this meant that two of my every three meals would be day old gruel, but it also meant that I did not have to spend much of any money during my stay in Brooklyn.

It was my last day in the cafeteria, my last day of eating gruel, the last time that I could cart out a couple sloppy meals in my beloved blue tote-bag. I loved eating in that cafeteria. I would sit alone behind a big brick pillar – hiding – and just read a book while stuffing my face with food that actually tasted pretty good. I like sitting alone in cafeterias, it reminds me of my solitary days in high school when I would hide from friends so that I could eat alone and have a few beautiful by-myself moments. Needless to say, I was feeling a little nostalgic about this last visit to the Long Island University Cafeteria.

In my usually day dreamy state I approached a line to get a fresh made omelet. I stood in the back of the queue and delighted in the thought of all the crap I was going to have my omelet stuffed with.

“Sorry sweetie, but I’m closed,” the omelet maker spoke to me. “That girl in front of you is the last in line.”

“Ok,” I said, feeling a little defeated. I felt deflated that she would not make one last omelet for me.

I went and sat down in my lonesome seat, and dived back into my book. A few moments later a girl approached me.

“Excuse me, sir. The lady sent me over to say that you can get back in line.”

I got an omelet. A lady who worked a gruel dishing job offered to dish up one more plate of gruel, offered to work just a little bit longer, so that I could enjoy an omelet.

This may seem small, but this does not happen everywhere on the planet.

If I can say one thing for American individualism: it does not successfully make robots.

Today I was shown something great about this country.

Links to previous travelogue entries:
Culture is Never Static the Exotic is Now
Publishing PDF Magazine
News Media and Travel

USA People Not Robots

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Filed under: Culture and Society, New York City, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3165 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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