Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A rigid mindset

Today's a holiday in Europe celebrating workers and it reminded me of a story I was told at a party. I met someone who manages a large corporation and he told me he'd helped three Irish guys (in this case all came from Northern Ireland) obtain a visa to come to the US to live and work here in order to get some experience. I think it's the visa program that succeeded the Donnelly Visa program because the successful applicants must return home again rather than stay permanently in the US.

These chaps arrived to work at his company. He noticed two of the men quickly became friends, but made no effort to befriend or socialize with the other man.

After three months or so, one of the two chaps comes up to him and says, "Did you know that other Irish fella' working with us is the other sort?"

(The man telling me the story was American Irish and brought up Catholic.)

The manager knew exactly what he meant and couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"I just waanted ye;' to know, like," the Irishman said, as if he were doing his American boss a huge favor and he should immediately fire the guy.

Astonishingly or not surprisingly depending on one's perspective, the other man left and the manager wasn't sure whether he went home or decided to travel around the country. To me the only thing that was surprising was that this Catholic chap felt he had a God-given right to spew his hatred and prejudice in the United States and try to influence his superiors. And it's incredibly sad, too. He gets a visa to work in a sophisticated environment in a large US city, an opportunity to gain some top-notch work experience,and all he can think about is that someone he is working with is an Irish protestant. Talk about leading a limited life. And he's going back to Northern Ireland without learning a thing.

No comments: