Little Cayman, British
My fraternization with the workers has not gone unnoticed. It is interesting
to see who is uncomfortable.Yesterday at breakfast, a man asked me
if there had been a concert the night before in the dining room.
"Sort of," I said. "I taught Louie and Junior a song
and now they are teaching me one of theirs." He looked at me
blankly so I said,”Gospel. That’s what we are singing.
Do you like gospel?”
His face tightened and he said sure.
I think you are like me in that you sometimes like to make
people uncomfortable. Especially people who need to think more
And I knew he didn’t
mean it so I wondered what it was that was such a big trigger for
him. I wondered if he thought of gospel as a code word for something
else—like scary black people.
I told my sister about this and she sighed. Laurel has done
a lot of worked in the African American community and has
many black friends and colleagues. However, in this instance,
she was more interested in lying in the sun and reading chick
lite literature like “You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again”
She is entitled. After the year she has had, she entitled
to do whatever the heck she wants to do.
Funny how I can't even accept that people should be entitled
to do "whatever
the heck..." I guess that's my problem having a Puritan work
she looked at me and said, “Give it a rest,
Joan, just for one day. I’m on vacation.”
I'm getting a kick out of the contrast between you and your
it is hard for me to give it a rest when the lives of the people
who are making our stay
possible seem invisible to so
including some of their white co-workers.
One afternoon, I was chatting with one of the bartenders, Stephanie,
an amazingly self-possessed 22 year old white woman from Vancouver
who has been traveling on her own since she was 17. She said, “It’s
so odd, the way these people are separated from their children. They
have children and then their mother or someone winds up raising them
in Jamaica while they come here.”
I said, I thought they came to Cayman because
the economy was so bad in Jamaica. This was
a way they could support
She agreed and said it was odd that they
didn’t seem to mind.
That they seemed so happy.
And I said, “I think they do mind. Don’t you
think you would mind if you had children that you could not see?”
The past few days, since our musical exchange,
the sound of singing has been louder coming
from the kitchen.
As I was sitting outside at a table, I overheard
the man I had met at breakfast say to his
wife, “I’m sure they don’t
make much here but it isn’t a stressful life.”
And I wondered what he really meant by that
remark. Did he believe it? Or was he trying
to reassure himself
that the status
quo was okay.
I can’t even fathom the emotional stress for a man like Junior,
to be separated from his wife and seven month old daughter.
On the one hand we are giving people an opportunity to support
on the other hand we have quasi slavery.)
Wed March 22, 2006