Working at the library, a portion of my shift consists of what is called “collection maintenance.” This portion of my shift requires me to reshelf books or make sure that they are all numerically and alphabetically ordered. One day, a new security guard covering the shift of the ‘regular guy’—bored out of his mind—decides to make conversation with me during ‘collection maintenance.’ Usually, it is difficult for people to get me to quiet down but during collection maintenance I am all about productivity.
“If I do not complete two carts in two hours I will have failed myself,” I kept thinking.
All of a sudden, Mr. TrynaKillTime shows up and in all honesty, he seemed pretty decent and friendly. I just knew I could get in trouble for wasting time talking instead of focusing on stacking books so I confront him straightforwardly about it in the BF721 section. He understands and gets back to work.
Half an hour later, when I arrive in the HV875 section, he somehow “coincidentally” manages to slip in between the shelves again nearby where I stand.
“Great,” I sigh.
“So where are you from?” he said.
“Morocco,” I responded.
“Oh? Where’s that”
“North Africa, under Spain,” I answered.
“Hmm… Interesting,” he begins. “So, you said you’re from Africa, right?”
“Well, do you speak, uh, do they speak Jamaican there?”
That question took me largely by surprise.
“You’re joking, right?” I said.
“Is this guy for real?”
“Was I close?” he asked. Clearly, the expression on my face did not give away how far that assumption was.
“You don’t even have the right country, yet alone the same continent,” I assured him.
A sketch of the approximate geographic difference between Jamaica and Morocco.
“What, really? That bad?” he tried smooth talking.
“Not only that, Jamaicans speak: English,” I added. “What level of education is required for you to be a security officer in a University library?”
“Yeah, I just needed to complete high school.”
“They let you graduate without taking Geography?” I asked.
“Well yes, but I don’t remember much from high school to be honest,” he justified.
“Evidently,” I whispered.
“What was that?”
“Oh, nothing,” I teased.
Avoiding THE AWKWARD:
- EDUCATE YOURSELF!
- Don’t believe what the media wants you to believe about Africa (i.e. Africa is NOT what you see on Mean Girls and “African/Jamaican” is not a language)
- If you’re not sure, DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS!