Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A Revelation of Prejudice

This is so embarrassing, but I have developed a prejudice over the past couple years.

It all started while waiting tables in Highlands, N.C. For a while I didn't notice things when it came to tips or people, but one day a fellow waiter, in between one of his trips to a back alley to sneak swigs of some sort of liquor, shouted, "Cheap South Carolinians!"

"Huh?" I asked, noticing his very clear generalization.

"Yeah, all South Carolinians are cheap," he complained. "They vacation with clothes and hundred dollar bills, and don't change either of them!" (That apparently was a waiter joke)

I arrogantly laughed his idea off, knowing that I would never judge people like that. Minutes later, I took a table with a family of four, all wearing outrageously tacky Hawaiian looking clothes. I took their orders, and in between filling their waters I chatted with them; where they were from, how long they were going to be in Highlands, what waterfalls they were going to hike to, and so on. It turned out that they were from South Carolina. After that, for some odd reason, I noted that they all only got waters, and got the cheapest things on the menu. As well, they hardly tipped at all, despite their friendly personalities and the fact that we seemed to get along and they seemed pleased with the service, thanking me for everything.

A seed had been planted.

The next day, I waited tables again at the restaurant. Nothing was out of the ordinary. During a lull in the lunch hour, however, I looked outside and across the street to notice the South Carolina family I had served the day before--ALL WEARING THE SAME CLOTHES AS YESTERDAY!

I was baffled. Maybe Paul was right, I thought to myself.

Ever since then, at the restaurant, if I got a bad tip, I immediately assumed they were one of those cheap South Carolinians. This idea grew worse, I began thinking that not only were South Carolinians were cheap, but stupid.

Now, whenever I see someone in a car with a South Carolina tag, I immediately assume they are horrible drivers, and whenever I see such a car make the tiniest mistake, it only reinforces my prejudice. The "MR UGLY" car, a few days ago? It only figured, since the car had a South Carolina tag on it. Whenever I drive through South Carolina, I can't help but think that suddenly I am more intelligent than everyone around me. If a South Carolina vehicle cuts me off, doesn't turn on its blinker when turning, has its brights on, drives too slow, drives too fast, has a dumb bumper sticker, etc., there's hell to pay.

Yes, I am a horrible person.

"To generalize is to be an idiot" - William Blake.