Friday, April 4, 2008

Perception

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Today was kind of overcast and windy, so I put on my fanciest outfit, unleased my traveling companion, Rusty, and we went out and caught up on regular stuff...got some food, went to the gym, answered emails and such. It's cheaper for me to go into town to use the internet (it's $3/hour, rather than $6/hour at the hotel), so it's worth the walk.

I took a little nap, then headed over to Scotty and Mal's bar and hung out there for the evening.

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I talked to a lot of different people throughout the night. The guy on the right lives in Florida, but will be moving here next month to work at a restaurant with the gal in the center...so he's very excited and looking forward to the change. The guy on the left is one of the bartenders, also very nice.

I have found, over many conversations the past month or so, that America is often perceived as a very dangerous place to live and visit. People always mention "There are so many shootings and so much violent crime...what is it like to live around that?". I tell them that it's not like we live in a military zone or anything, but that some of the bigger cities do have different levels of shootings and crime. It all depends on where you live.

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The door guy from the bar is from Fiji and his father lives and works as a lawyer in Sacramento. He's a really nice/friendly guy, but softspoken and humble. I asked him if he ever got over to California to visit his dad. He said "Not yet, but I really want to go to America one day, but it is so dangerous...I don't want to be shot.". I responded with the usual "Well, you'll probably be just fine. Sacramento is a pretty safe place, for California anyway.". Then he told me about his younger cousin who went to visit his father in Sacramento (their fathers are friends) a couple of years ago. It was his first visit to the states also and he was looking forward to seeing what it was like there. A couple days after arriving, his cousin went out to do some clothes shopping. As he was walking along the sidewalk looking at stores, he was shot in a random driveby, once in the head and once in the chest.

Dead.

In Sacramento.

Awful.

Another girl from Wellington said she was visiting Colorado a year ago and was stuck waiting for a bus with a friend. The news was on TV above them and she said it was just one violent story after another...shootings, assaults, crime. She turned to her friend and said "Do we have to watch this?" and went to wait away from the screen.

The girl next to her said "I visited Los Angeles once...I felt very uncomfortable in that city most of the time. It really made me appreciate where I live."

A little later, a guy asked me if I was from Canada. I said, "No, I'm visiting from Los Angeles." and before I could say anythng else, another guy from behind me said to his friend "Good call mate...the Canadians HATE to be mistaken for Americans...it's always safer to ask if someone is from Canada first!"

I have heard that exact statment from someone in every city that I've visited on this trip.

Our country really needs an extreme makeover....and quick.

2 comments:

Malcolm said...

Is he the first black guy you have seen whilst in New Zealand?

Vampire Hours said...

Actually, no. But, it's certainly not as mixed here as I'm used to in Los Angeles.