Offending the Natives

Here’s a topic that’s simple, but as usual, I’ve got a roundabout way of talking about it.

Sammul’s Log: July 7th, 2018

Today, I was working my barista job, when a man came up and asked what a macchiato was.

I told him it was “A double shot of espresso with a small amount of foam on top”.

He ordered it, but he ordered it with caramel and less foam.

“That’s fine, easy enough.” I think. So I make it with caramel and steam the milk with less foam. Then I even give him a little extra caramel-milk on the side in case it isn’t creamy enough for him. I use the dine-in dishes and give him a decent presentation for his drink

(It looked similar to this photo)

selective focus photography of cappuccino coffee
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

.

Expecting a thank you for my courtesy, and insight to his needs, I wait to see his reaction.

After I take his payment, he takes a paper cup from the counter, and dumps the macchiato into the cup, dumps the caramel milk on top, and mixes it like crazy. Once he’s finished, he pushes the dishes back to me and walks to his table.

The way he treated the drink I made offended me. With my knowledge and respect for European coffee culture, I understand the qualities that make a macchiato tasteful and a unique experience. But what he did with it was basically Americanizing what wasn’t an American specialty.
I had been courteous and given him more than enough of what he wanted, and I felt like it was thrown in my face. (I know, I’m a coffee snob)

Now, I understand that I was overreacting. It shouldn’t altogether anger me, its how he likes his coffee, but it did bring this topic of discussion to mind:

If he were in Europe, would he have done the same thing? Why or why not?

Then this brought another question:

“Why do we act differently when we know we are in a culture that is not our own, as opposed to when we are in our own element?”

You know how it is when you go traveling out of the country, or to a different part of the country, or maybe even into a different city where the culture is different from that at home?

At some point during that trip, there is usually a conversation that happens. Especially if the trip is taken with young kids along. This conversation is intended to lessen the culture shock. To make the new surroundings and sometimes people, easier to take in. 

Let me tell you a story of when that happened to me.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my youth group took a mission trip to Jamaica, and I was terrified. I spent so much of my time looking left and right, being suspicious of everybody, thinking that they were going to drug me or something, that I’m sure it took away from the enjoyment of the trip. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great trip. It’s just that our leaders painted the picture to us that everyone was on drugs and might offer us pot on the streets. They told stories of how they got caught up in customs because a student took some marijuana with them, without knowing what it was. The point was so driven-home for me that I ended up with the idea in my head that anyone who walked up to us (tourists on the street of Montego Bay) were trying to sell us pot, or else sneak it into our luggage. I was freaked out.

Spoilers: It’s not really like that.

My point with this story is that we seem to have a certain perspective when visiting new places or meeting new people. And we try as much as we can to “not offend the natives”. We try our best to learn their customs, or their way of talking, or their style of traffic, or whatever else we encounter that’s different. We cut them slack because we know we aren’t like them, and we automatically try a little harder to understand what they are all about.

Knowing and acknowledging this, I wonder…why don’t we treat everyone we meet with the same slack? Why do we only reserve that kindness or insight for our encounters with “natives”? Because if you think about it, everyone you meet is a “native” to their own homeland. Whatever life they live is different from yours. The world they grew up in, and they go home to, isn’t your home – it’s theirs. It’s their homeland.

Everyone you meet is a “native” to their own homeland.

No matter your belief system, I think we can all understand the concept of treating one another with the same courtesy as we would like to be treated ourselves, however that applies.

Maybe you need to watch how you act in the drive-thru (you know who you are, and so do the people working the window).
Maybe you need to pay more attention at your job, or at school, or to your friends who might be dealing with something you didn’t know before.

Whichever way it applies, understand that we are all here on earth, but we aren’t at all the same person. We have the same core, but we aren’t the same person at all. Treat everyone with kindness and cut some slack. I promise that people will like you more if they know they don’t have to pretend around you.

Notice that this doesn’t always make the actions of others right, and doesn’t mean that you have to stoop to their level. Keep your integrity, and keep your morals, but be kind regardless of what their moral integrity is.

4 Comments

  1. Hey, I’m honest, so I’m not just being nice with my comment here regarding your first posting. You have a GREAT way of wording your thoughts, consistently, flowingly and interestingly. I’m assuming you write how you think, and just type what’s in your brain and so forth. That works, structurally. I was never confused with a statement or sentence. I think it’s nifty how you started with a small circumstance in your day, of something that is unique to listen to as it’s a part of you as a person (your barista job) which gives the reader insight on the writer, you, and maybe on purpose or maybe not, added some humor without detracting from the message, brought forth rhetorical questions and a personal experience to tie into your ending statement and overall theme. You gave support for your thoughts. It was a very well done writing. I also enjoy the theme immensely as being kind to everyone is a simple idea, but the fact that you should also, as you said, keep your morals and integrity is important. People are going through who knows what, we can indeed cut them some slack and just be kind. I look forward to reading your future posts, Sam. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Molly! It, of course, went through editing to bring out the point I meant with the original log, but I appreciate the confirmation. It means a lot to hear it from someone outside my own head.

      Liked by 1 person

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