Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The American Dream

As mentioned in my previous posting, I am currently in the United States for a conference in Jacksonville, Florida, which I combine with a few days of vacation driving around in the south of America. Before I left to the USA, I promised myself not to blog, to take a break, but then I entered a Burger King…

After leaving the motel right next to the airport of Jacksonville, I reached the state of Georgia some 30 minutes later. Due to jet lag, I wasn’t too hungry when I woke up, but we all know never to drive on an empty stomach. A good moment to pull over and find a place to eat. Well, that’s easy in America: pretty much any highway exit you take will offer you a wide choice of fast food options.

In my case, I could choose between a Burger King, a McDonald’s, a Subway, a Wendy’s and one more, which I forgot. Without really giving it a second thought, I went to the Burger King and ordered an omelet burger and a large coffee. That sure would get my systems going!

While waiting for the burger, an afro-American was talking loudly to his colleagues. He looked pretty old already, had gray hair and as far as I could tell, he was responsible for cleaning up the dishes. There’s something sad to see elderly working jobs like this, but that’s quite common in the USA. Must be the ugly side of capitalism. Like, many times you see grandpa’s and grandma’s behind the counter taking your order.

Anyway, the guy was going on and on about his daughter: “Can you believe it? I sure can’t, no sir, not me, nah-uh. My o w n d a u g h t e r! What was she thinking?!”. The way he was talking, it was unclear if he was laughing or crying, sometimes these two emotions are difficult to tell apart.

Intrigued, I listened on. “Y’know, I told her, better be careful here, always think ahead….oh boy, was I wrong or what??...she always told me to trust her in her choices, but that ain’t easy for a dad, no sir. I told her to just go Georgia State (a university, RB), but she wouldn’t want to”

By now, I was figuring she must be either pregnant with the boyfriend quitting on her, dropping out of school or something equally bad. Good thing the burger was large and the coffee still hot. I wanted to hear how this would finish.

“She was always smart, y’know, always knew better than her dad. Can you believe it I’ve never been so proud of her, except the day she was born? My girl going to Harvard Law School!!”

Wow! Wow, indeed! “Welcome to America” I was thinking to myself. The American Dream still comes true for some. Here we have a black young woman, daughter of a dishwasher at the local Burger King somewhere in a poor town in the south of Georgia…being accepted into Harvard and on her way to become a successful legal expert…

Well, you can see that despite all my promises not to blog, this story was just too good to ignore.


adiamondinsunlight said...

Oh Riemer, what a sweet story! Thank you for sharing it. You're right - there are some ugly sides to capitalism, and I am sad whenever I see 65+ people working. But I am happy for this woman, and for the father who is so proud of her.