Racist or just really not a fan of miscommunication?

24 May

I received a link to this story in my e-mail the other day and I’m slightly perturbed by it.  Short story even shorter: Reedy Creek Diner chef Greg Simons in Lexington, North Carolina displays the above sign in his restaurant.  He then claims that, “Everybody’s money is green as far as I’m concerned. It’s a communication thing.”

On one hand I would like to think that it really is “a communication thing”,  yet somehow I can’t seem to shake the possibility that he’s slightly racist.  Does anyone else get that vibe?  I hate miscommunication as much as the next person.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I hate it much more since Mr. Kelley and I spend a lot of the time on the phone together and half the time he’s speaking at a decibel only dolphins (they apparently have incredible hearing) can hear.  So yes, I understand that in our day-to-day lives miscommunication is a major inconvenience, however, we don’t purposely avoid talking to people with whom we may not understand. 

I comprehend that it’s Mr. Simmons’ prerogative if he wants to not serve certain people, but it’s everyone else’s prerogative to have a problem with it and label him a racist.  Surely someone is going to see a parallel between his restaurant excluding non-English speakers and other businesses excluding people who don’t wear shirts or shoes.  Yet there is a major difference: those who choose not to wear shirts or shoes when walking into an establishment can simply go home and find the appropriate articles of clothing to wear, but people who don’t speak English can’t easily pop in their Rosetta Stone and learn another language in time for the next time they crave diner food. 

I’ve thought about this for a bit because being called a racist is a pretty hefty accusation and perhaps he might just really have a vexation with not understanding what people are saying, but if that’s the case why doesn’t he also exclude people who speak English as a second language or those with accents? I know from experience that it’s pretty darn difficult to understand them (my parents are a great example).  Perhaps then he’d need a better excuse aside from “Everybody’s money is green…”

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/k4okzt

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3 Responses to “Racist or just really not a fan of miscommunication?”

  1. ireneyachan May 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this, Kelly! I don’t agree with the sign but I can understand where his frustration comes from. I used to work at the bank at a branch where the majority of the customers were Hispanic and the first thing they asked me was if I spoke any Spanish. I understand it’s scary to try to speak in a unfamiliar language and I tried my hardest to communicate with them if they tried to communicate with me. But what I didn’t like was the fact that I was yelled at multiple times by the customers for not speaking Spanish.(and it happened a lot) So I can totally see where Mr. Simons’ frustration comes from. I would hope his intention for the sign is to encourage people to try to speak English and not to shut off the whole Hispanic community.

    • kelleyzwong May 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Irene,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, I agree that his intention to minimize communication conflict makes sense, but he really is negating the feelings of a large amount of people. No one should be yelled at for not speaking a specific language and everyone should work a little harder to be understood, but not providing service to people solely based on their language isn’t bettering society.

      I hope you’re enjoying your summer break!

      • ireneyachan May 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

        Well, I have to be honest that sometimes I wanted to tell people to either try to communicate with me in English or they could go somewhere else. But the beauty of being in retail is that you don’t really have a choice but to try to accomodate all of your customers. I do think it’s ignorant for him to put up a sign like that and even have it in Spanish. Unless he really doesn’t care about the image or revenue stream of his restaurant, it is really a dumb thing for him to do.

        I sure am enjoying my summer break. I hope you’re having a good summer as well! (if you call this weather summer…)

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