Those who know me well would know that I enjoy coffee shops and eateries. I cannot for the life of me understand how people can hate the idea of eating and enjoying a good conversation. Even when eating alone and communing with ones own thoughts. And often you can get a sense of what's going on in other people's worlds when you pick up the ancillary noises in the establishment. It can be amusing to hear what people think of their best friends, family, spouses or lovers. Please, I'm not suggesting you wilfully eavesdrop, but it is difficult to not listen when the speaker virtually wants the world to know. And so often, you also get to experience other people's behaviour.
Last week I was having lunch in a well-known eatery. Nothing spectacular on my plate, so I didn't waste too much time getting my digestive system working. After my meal and the accompanying coffee fix, I made my way to the pay point. It is here that my day changed.
A fellow patron approached the on-duty manager to complain about his food. No problem, except the tone of the man's voice and his body language. If, like me, you've grown up under Apartheid, the behaviour is instinctively recognisable - it's a "baaskap" attitude. The man barked at the manageress, and my insides boiled as I listened to this exchange. Here stood an overweight, dumpy-size male, instructing the manageress to fix his meal or he will not pay for it, and then dismissed her before she was able to respond. Of course, half of the meal was first consumed. I would have been ashamed to ask for more food, given his well managed, obese physique. His whole attitude smacked of cultural and class superiority.
Yes, prejudice is alive and well. In spite of the many gains we've made as a society post-1994, we cannot rest. We must continue to challenge and fight against it. Democracy never eradicated this scourge. We dare not ignore it. It is a cancer that will destroy us. And why am I emphasizing this? The reason has nothing to do with this anal behaviour in an adult being, but everything to do with the minors that accompanied him. For whilst he was performing, I was watching the children with him. And the scary part, for me, was that the children had a similar demeanour as the adult. And that's so disconcerting.
I suspect these kids were no older than ten years, and oh so impressionable. And the impressions they are assimilating and using to mould their own views of the world is being poisoned by an adult; an adult who cannot engage others without aggression, condescending language, threats and disrespect. And his sniggers will become their sniggers if not challenged.
Once again I realised how important a task our educators have in all our schools. Once again I realised why our educators cannot afford to simply focus on the academic stuff, why Life Skills and Life Orientation are important subjects and must be given there legitimate space on the timetables of schools. If we don't ensure this, we leave the "holistic view" approach to raising a child solely in the hands of our parents, and whilst many parents are able to manage this, we cannot run the risk to our society if we do not negate the approach of the many parents who don't.
What do you think? Do leave a comment.