A Cafe Story

September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

The other day I went into a cafe to treat myself to a cup of coffee — a latte to be exact — known here as a latte macchiato. No I didn’t get a piece of cake – but I would have if it had looked like this.

I had some time on my hands and so I got involved in a conversation with the lone woman customer sitting in the coffee shop and the woman who was doling out the cakes and coffee.  For some reason we ended up on the topic of immigration. The woman customer was convinced that any Arab or Turkish person could enter Germany legally and immediately claim social benefits.

“They clog up our hospitals. They come here and get their teeth fixed at our expense. And when the German citizen asks for something —there’s no money for that. Yes that’s really how it is.”

I kept repeatedly asking her how she knew this and how she could be positive that this was really the case. She provided no direct information but assured me that this is what is happening in Germany. “Just ask anyone else whose been here for awhile and you will get the same answer,” she said.

She also complained about how tough it is for “Germans” to find jobs. This really struck me. It seems no matter how good the economy is, finding a job is very difficult. It’s almost as if the negative scenario is burned in their brains and they can’t separate themselves from that. The economy is actually doing quite well here and in many sectors there’s a shortage of workers. But the fixed image is that it’s tough to find a job and the foreigners are taking whatever there is away from the “Germans.”

Of course this mindset you find everywhere and it’s easy enough to encounter this in the States — folks who think the Mexicans take away jobs from “real Americans.”

Why do people get stuck on a certain image or scenario — almost always negative — and are unable to readjust when given the facts?

Maybe it’s just easier to always think you’re right.

§ One Response to A Cafe Story

  • Klaus Engelhardt says:

    It is also easy to complain. For some, it is like a sport (the French and Eastern Europeans come to my mind…). I think the operative expression here is “European doom and gloom”. That is anyway the way I used to discuss it in French literature classes. In fact most romantic love stories, from Tristan and Iseult to Madame Bovary, do end in death and utter desolation. Sometimes, the students would accuse me to select those texts deliberately, but then I would reply that I saw it as my duty to ween them away from the standard Hollywood endings. After all, life DOES end in death.

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