Elderly Women in front of a Counter in a Small Town

During the winter break of my first year of college I worked as a cashier at a now defunct truck stop in a small town.

The memories I have from said time are lively to say the least. Two incidents are still vivid in my mind after “all these” years.

If you hung around this blog long enough you know that I am Mexican. No, not of Mexican descent only (that is Mexican-American) but actually born in México.

Personally I can’t recall being discriminated against because of that, at least directly. I know there are people who think Mexicans inferior and all that but I haven’t directly been the target of such ignorance.

To be fair, I probably don’t fit the image most people might have of Mexicans for I’m not dark-skinned or swarthy or perhaps even wear a sombrero (If that is your impression of us, well you haven’t been exposed to very many of us). The accent I did have when I first started speaking English on a daily basis, is by all accounts gone.

The 2 incidents which I recall are in this vein. The first involved an elderly inhabitant of the aforementioned small town. The woman, she couldn’t have been younger than 70, and her sister came to buy something or other and as they were paying me they laid out their cash on the counter to count it (after all isn’t that what a counter is for?).

Now the women were Anglo and probably grew up during a time in this country were racism was not only extant but acceptable. As they finished coming up with the cash to cover their purchases one of the women turned to the other and dropped this line,

Put your money away before a Mexican comes and steals it

Now I found this amusing though I didn’t react visibly. My initial thought was, “This woman doesn’t know I’m Mexican or if she does she doesn’t care”.

I know such an incident might send some of my compatriots (real or pretend) scrambling for the nearest phone so they can call some civil rights group and demand so-called justice.

At the end of it I dismissed it as the ignorance of a woman who grew up at a time when such ignorance was believed and perhaps even encouraged. What question did arise in my mind was the following,

Were (are) Mexicans really viewed as thieves? Just waiting to part a fool from his/her money?

The other incident involved a couple of elderly Mexican women. Sometimes I would have to work the graveyard shift (Midnight-8am) and the middle of the night would bring bus after bus of gamblers (the vast majority Hispanic) going to or from the casinos in Louisiana (gambling is not legal in Texas).

One night a bus disembarked and sure enough it was a bunch of elderly Hispanics. Understand that working this shift is hard for it is somewhat unnatural to be awake during these hours. I probably didn’t look as awake as I could have been.

So these 2 Mexican women roll up to the counter to pay for whatever it is they bought and one of them tells the other one in Spanish,

This guy doesn’t even look like he’s awake

Of course she was referring to me and I let her know (in Spanish) that I was quite awake. The reaction was priceless as they always are when one commits such a faux pas. The woman was understandably embarrassed (unfortunately, I’ve been in her shoes and believe me it’s embarrassing) yet didn’t offer an apology.

She merely said, “Well you do look half-asleep”.

I know Pearl Jam sing about an “elderly woman behind a counter in a small town” but as for me the ones in front of a counter have proven more entertaining.

So AT&T allegedly gave the Feds a Peek…

And perhaps that should be a cause for concern for some of us who live in this here land of the free and home of the brave, and perhaps some among us whose ISP is AT&T.

Check out this story from the Seattle Times, “AT&T gave feds access to all Web, phone traffic, ex-tech says”.

The law which was allegedly violated by AT&T is actually listed in the above story,

The 1986 Stored Communications Act forbids telephone companies and computer-service providers from giving the government records showing who customers had dialed or e-mailed without a warrant or court order. Because the law allows consumers to recover a minimum of $1,000 for each violation, AT&T and a handful of other companies could be on the hook for billions of dollars in civil liability, some experts in telecommunications law have said.
Seattle Times archives

If what the ex-AT&T tech in the story says is true, then yeah his former company might have broken the law.

Of course this brings up certain questions: If you have nothing to hide then what’s the big deal if NSA takes a look at your surfing habits? The Apostle’s words come to mind,

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; –Romans 13:3

What is the big deal when such procedures may help the government nab a few folks who are in the business of killing Americans? (Of course you can believe that these folks don’t exist)

I know, I know this land is a land of laws and all that, but wouldn’t you folks who cling to this like it’s the end all be all, would your fears be smoothed over if the Feds revealed the surfing habits of some pastors so then you can revel in Christian hypocrisy?