I’m not working today, but I’m right next store from my grocery store – working at my laptop on the porch of the new cafe next to us (and eating one of their terrific burgers). From here I had a great vantage point to view a little drama involving some of our customers. I didn’t recognize the three Latina females: a young woman, middle-aged woman and an 8-yr. or so little girl – but I recognized the contents of their shopping cart as being our groceries.
However, when I saw their groceries they were no longer in the shopping cart, but strewn around the parking lot next to the upended cart. My attention was first drawn to the sound of the cart going over. What was absent in the sound profile was any expletive (I think I would have recognized them even in Spanish) or any sounds of upset at all. As they were surveying the mess, the little girl uttered an appreciative, “Wow!” Her mom and grandmother didn’t say “Wow”, but they were so apparently unflapped by the situation and the girl’s comment that I thought I heard them saying, “This is interesting.”
As soon as the mother had righted the shopping cart, the little girl climbed on the side of it. I thought, “Now here is where the anger shows.” Nope, not an iota. She did sho0 her daughter off the cart, in Spanish words that sounded more musical and even playful than irritated. The grandmother lifted the first (very heavy) five-gallon water jug into the cart – then her daughter helped her with the second one. Both of these women were very slender and short. I made a commitment to myself last week to not mess with these jugs after lifting one into a customer’s car bothered my low back.
Then they gathered up their produce, putting it back in the two boxes it rolled out of. The abuela picked up the carton of eggs and never even opened it to look. I can only guess at her inner process: “I bet they’re fine”? “What’s done is done”?
Any generalizations about another culture are risky – but some of them tend to be accurate. It’s when we assume they will hold true for any individual that we slip into stereotypes. I know that it would be a good day indeed when I would walk through a situation like this with so much poise. There would almost have to be at least a “shit!” and maybe some real upset. I want to believe that something in these women’s cultural background made them immune to crying over the spilled groceries.