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  1. Violadamore, on 06 Dec 2014 - 04:45 AM, said: (quote) The sophomoric sexual innuendos one often has to wade through around here probably are.(the worst kind of humour) (quote) Since I already wished a happy Christmas way too soon, how about a new year resolution. I'm afraid I originally put this post in the wrong place and perhaps it is a little too high toned, but I have been a little disturbed by some rather misplaced comments on MN this last year. Speaking as one who was rather fond of sophomoric sexual innuendo before my daughter was born in the 1980's, I whole heartedly agree with Violadamore; we really don't need it on MN. Like racism, no matter how we try, to some degree this this kind of thing is in us all. I think of several recent comments about Chinese instruments. The good thing is that it is never too late to change. This is a story I used to tell my kids. I'm sorry its so long, but I sometimes think that some MN contributors could do with reading it. In the 1980’s Delta was by far the biggest airline flying out of Chicago’s. O’Hare was the hub for this important carrier and it had a seemingly unending row of check-in desks that stretched as far as the eye could see. One hot summer’s day I arrived at O’Hare in a battered Chicago taxi. I was travelling with Machold, my then boss; a notorious last minute traveller. In America, he liked to project an air of European aristocratic superiority. He loved having people run around after him and on this particular day I was just another one of his runners. On the way to the terminal we were sitting on the cabs loose fitting rear seat. A Plexiglas partition separated us from the driver. Displayed on this partition were the drivers ID and licence. These indicated that he was a recent immigrant from Pakistan. Some years earlier, while I was still teaching, together with two colleagues I attended evening classes to learn Urdu; Urdu being the official language of Pakistan. Ostensibly this was to help me communicate with our schools new Pakistani immigrants, but since I also fancied one of my colleagues, I was especially keen to make a good impression. At that time, the only English/Pakistani language book that was available had been written by and for British Army officers serving on the Indian sub continent. Since no English edition was available, our teacher had brought several copies over from Pakistan. These books were loosely bound and printed on cheap recycled paper. They looked and smelled ‘third world’. They contained such useful phases as; “See that the horses are properly watered and fed”. “Put the hounds in their kennels,” and “Drive the memsahib to the polo club.” The members of this evening class, mainly left wing teachers and junior doctors, thought this book was hilarious. I suspect our rather more ‘conservative’ Pakistani teacher did not find it quite so amusing. Primarily to impress Machold, I addressed the Chicago taxi driver in Urdu. He was clearly amused by my efforts and we talked for several minutes until we reached the terminal building. As usual I paid the driver and rushed to pull our bags from the trunk. In the meantime Machold stepped out of the cab and with a dismissive flip of his hand he waved the driver off. To my horror, as the taxi was pulling away I noticed my jacket lying on the rear window ledge. In the jacket were our air tickets and eight thousand dollars in cash. In spite of the obvious dangers, Machold loved to carry and brandish large rolls of high denomination bank notes. In blind panic I noted the number of the taxi and ran to a nearby police officer who was directing airport traffic. I quickly explained the situation with the jacket and asked if he could arrange for someone to radio the cab. He told me that this would not be possible because Chicago taxi cabs were not fitted with radios. When he asked what was in the jacket, I told him about flight tickets and the money, although I did not to tell him exactly how much money. “You’ll never see them again,” was his curt reply. Rather condescendingly, I explained that the driver was a Muslim and that generally, Muslims have very high morals. He looked me up and down and said, “You’re pretty naive buddy! You’ll never see your ‘Muslim friend’ or the jacket again! And now, if you will excuse me sir, I have a job to do." This all took place before ‘nine-eleven’; before the next great seismic shift in racial stereotyping had occurred. In the nineteen fifties and sixties, Rosa Parks, King, Kennedy and the Wars in Korea and Vietnam had supposedly changed our approach to discrimination, but now here we were in the nineteen eighties, the 'age of Mandela', and hearing this white traffic cop’s jaundiced views, I knew there was still a long way to go and looking at the news today I sometimes wonder how far we have actually come. Somewhat disillusioned I walked away and picking up our bags I entered the terminal building with Machold walking several steps behind. I approached one of the many Delta desks and spoke to a white male member of Delta’s ground staff. I told him the story and asked if our tickets could be reissued. He informed me that he did not have the authority and that I must speak with the chief executive officer. He used his desk phone and we waited for several minutes. Eventually, a small black woman came and asked what the problem was. I briefly outlined our situation and told her that since our flight would soon be leaving, we urgently needed to speak to Delta’s chief executive officer. “I am the chief executive officer,” she replied with good-natured tolerance. And then, quite simply, I was on the rack. Although a bona fide product of the enlightened sixties, I had nevertheless expected a large, white male. Instead I was faced with a small, black, female. I had been caught three times. Fortunately she was neither young nor overweight or it would probably have been five. And I swear that before my cheeks had finished burning, our Muslim taxi driver appeared with my jacket folded over his arm. In spite of such experiences, I know that this stuff is still inside me. I have to be on my guard constantly, especially when using humour.
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