Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Interesting experience in Georgia

You would probably have heard it over and over again, another wonderful Christmas season (gifts, get together, etc). So here I've decided to omit it, part of it because I am not a routine blogger so I'd better utilize my blogging time.

After staying 3 days in Lake Crystal, MN, right after the Sunday church service around noon I hit the road and drove to the airport to catch my 3:45 PM flight to Georgia on the mission to help my brother move to his new house. He paid for the tickets and surely he put me to work.

On the next morning, Dec 29, we went to finalize the paper work for closing. We got together with the realtor and had breakfast at a waffle restaurant. The realtor made an extra stop to pick up rental payment from a family. He said it was a hassle to chase those low income African American families down. They often late in payment but always pay eventually. But he also felt sorry for their lives. They are often in between jobs and difficult to meet their ends. According to him dealing with real estate is complicated with segregated society. Once an African American family moves to a neighborhood it is very difficult to sell or rent a house to a Caucasian family in that area. He showed me another neighborhood where it's used to be white residents just several years ago and now all African Americans. It's something I've never heard in Minnesota. I believe the problem is more complicated than just simply blaming it on racism alone in Georgia. From what I heard you don't see it between Asian and Caucasian for example. There are deeper cultural division between black and white, frankly they can't stand each other. Obama wouldn't have been elected just because he is (half) black but because he was raised by white family. (One could argue most blacks voted for him but many people voted against him just because he is black and probably it evened out). Cultural assimilation and tolerance may be a solution.

After the house closing my brother and I went to get a Uhaul. To my surprise he said we were going to pick-up a couple able men from the street. He said it's not uncommon especially by construction companies. I wasn't sure what to think but went along with it. There were quite a number of people in some gas station looking for work. As soon as he made a signal probably 20 people rushing to get into the back of his car and he made it clear only two were needed. He said people could pay as low as $5/hour but he was generous enough to offer them $10/hour. I made a suggestion to offer them something to eat and he made a stop at a McDonalds. At least they would have energy to do all the lifting.

Even though we had big language barrier, by using gesture we manage to have them follow our instructions. As we started moving stuff out of my brother's first house, I was so impressed by how diligent those workers were. They worked so fast, running as they carried boxes and stuff. On each carry they kept asking for extra box or other stuff to save the trip. They were so efficient and working non-stop, remarkable.

We were done for the day around 8 PM and my brother offered them to go to an Indonesian restaurant. I didn't know they liked Indonesian food and thought probably we should go to a Mexican restaurant. My brother said they loved Indonesian food, Indonesian restaurants in Georgia had many hispanic customers. Then I thought about it and realized that Mexican and Indonesian food actually have many similarities.

We arranged to pick them up the next morning close to 9. After stopping by a McDonalds for breakfast, again they worked so efficiently through out the day. For lunch my brother took them to a Chinese buffet, I have to say it's a great food. We were done moving by 6 PM. My brother gave them $100 each even though they worked less than 10 hours. He pointed out that they had work very hard and probably didn't have a job the next day. We made five trips, it has been long two days !!! I have never done that much move before. After shower and dinner in Chinatown my brother dropped me off at the airport to catch my flight at 9 PM.

I was home shortly after mid night. It was snowing, a drastic change from 70s F summer-like weather in Georgia. My experience working with those hispanic workers still stick in my head for many days. For actually sitting next to them in the car and Uhaul truck, eating at the same table in restaurants, and smelling their smelly bodies gave me an up close and personal experience. I wish I could communicate with them and learn their stories.