Friday, May 25, 2007

May 25_2007 – The Results of Living in A True “Culture of Corruption”

Every so often I return to my roots; in my case the mainly Middle-Eastern/North African enclave in Dearborn, MI where I grew up. Then, as now, it is the first place recent immigrants take up residence when they come to America. And the culture, history and life experience that they have informs all their actions and practices too.

I was visiting a friend there recently and we were having a snack at restaurant that serves the food of the Yemenis. The time was early afternoon and it was warm and humid, especially in the kitchen area. So the cooks were taking a smoke & coffee break in the area near the alley door, and the door itself was propped open to allow some cool fresh air in and to let the smoke and steam out. My friend is fireman for the city of Dearborn and carries a badge and ID proclaiming such too. Now being the sort that he is (i.e., a notorious buttinsky), he went up to the cooks and flashed his badge on them and explained that it is against heath code regs to have the door to the kitchen propped open; it can only be open when and if someone is entering or exiting. Anything else is a violation which can get the restaurant fined or closed by the “authorities.” It was this which my friend Firefighter Buttinsky was attempting to warn them about. But that is not the effect it had though.

The owner came running out and jabbered in his native dialect with the cooks to ascertain what the hub-bub was all about. Mr. Owner was absolutely convinced that Mr. Fireman was soliciting for a cash bribe, free food, or something. See, that's how things are done and how badge carriers act in Yemen. The downside of doing business this way is that it adds to the owner's costs, it allows nasty and unhealthy conditions to exist and persist over time, and other bad things as well.

Once the owner figured this out, that it was just friendly advice and not solicitation for a bribe, the look on his face was priceless. America is a good country, mostly, ain't it?

No comments: