Monday, August 20, 2007

Immigrants R Us

by Emma Kaufmann fromMommy Has A Headache,

Irish Immigrants arriving in the USA 1902

My husband has been out of town for the last week, and
before he left, he bunged me a load of cash, said au
revoir and left me to fend for myself. I don't mean to
imply that I am one of those followers of that weird
cult book, The Surrendered Wife, which claims that
if a woman submits to her husband's will, her
marriage will be as fragrant as a basket of freshly
baked muffins. I just, oh God, this
is hard to say... I just don't carry credit cards,
because I am not safe with them. Giving me
credit cards would basically be like asking me to fly
a plane. Re the plane, don't be surprised if it
crashes and burns, and re the credit cards, don't be
surprised if I order a lot of lingerie, books and
expensive shampoos over the Internet. So, since I'm
not yet working (no green card), my husband doles me
out a certain amount of cash per week, and when I have
spent that, that is that. Additionally, he always goes
out and puts gas in my car, in essence, making him
more of a surrendered husband than me a surrendered

So basically, I had not put gas into my car by myself
for two years (please bear in mind that I've
only been driving for four years total). And so
yesterday, there I was, making a valiant attempt to
fill up my car, but however much I manhandled the
nozzle (no innuendo intended), no gas was forthcoming.
I simply could not remember how to do it.

Well, yes, this is a little embarrassing, I thought,
so I went into the gas station shop and talked to the
beautiful sari-clad woman behind the counter, who very
graciously offered to help me.

"You are a foreigner, from England?" she said.


"I think you have not been here long?"

I was going to say, "Actually it's been seven years,"
but it would have been too embarrassing to say that in
seven years I had not learnt how to pump gas, so
instead I said, "No, not long."

"You do not usually pump your own gas?" she said, as
she stuck the nozzle into my car.

"No, I don't."

"I know how you feel. Back in my country, Pakistan, I
had servants who did all that. When I came to America,
I said to my husband, 'What? You want me to fill up my
own gas tank? Are you crazy?'" She chuckled.

Oh goodness me, no. I didn't want her to think I was
some pampered little housewife who had a valet to pump
her gas for her. "I don't pump my own gas because,
well, because my husband does it for me. Not because I
have servants."

And then there was a brief moment of summing each
other up, as we tried to work out the other's social
status. I thought it was pretty obvious that back in
Pakistan, she had been of a higher social status than
me. But maybe she thought that I was of the higher
class. In any case, it mattered not a jot, because us
both being immigrants was the great class leveller.

And I thought of all the immigrants that have entered
this country, and for once I actually thought, I am
glad to be an immigrant. Because when you are a
foreigner, you are equal to all other foreigners. For
example, to some people here, I am as loathed as an
illegal Mexican immigrant (not that I am saying there
is anything wrong with Mexicans, illegal or

I didn't ask the woman why she had left her homeland
to come here. We all have our stories. We are all
running away from something when we come to a foreign
country, and we don't always find the welcome we

And for that moment, I felt more connected to her than
I have to any born and bred American, since I have
been in this country. It was a good feeling actually,
knowing that these were my people. That all American
immigrants, past and future, were my community.


The Farmers Wife said...

oh wow, I can so relate to this!

It is amazing how many people you end up befriending or befriend you that you wouldn't normally associate with just because you are both foreigners.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

What a great post; I really enjoyed reading it. As someone who has never lived abroad, apart from a brief few months in Italy when I was in my 20s, it was a real eye-opener.

Featured Post and Blog of the Week

You Are Here

by Amie from

You did well in school to get into college. You tried to get by well enough in college to be attractive to an employer or graduate program, and along the way you may have opened your heart a time or two. Maybe you even found true love.

With a foot in the door, the first years of work were the time to
prove your mettle once again. Promotions, raises all with the goal to secure your future will allow you to settle down, buy a house, travel, commit to a relationship, have kids or not. In what feels like a blink of an eye, your future is here.

And now what?

Read the full post...

Chance Favors Only Those Who Court Her

by Debbie from Missives from Suburbia

After a less-than-friendly divorce, I was on the market again. Seizing the opportunity, my friends scoured their address books and Palm Pilots for single men and set me up on blind date after blind date. My reaction to most of those dates was, "I call these people my FRIENDS?" One of my real friends suggested, and given how much I love the Internet, I gave it a go.

A couple months of e-dating passed by in a blink. It was fun, but so far nothing meaningful had hit my radar, and my match inventory was starting to run low. You see, "matches" you to people based on a list of your requirements, and I'd pretty much run through all my existing matches who didn't seem psycho or stoned, based on their profiles.

Then, one day, I got an email from a guy who was not a match by my standards...

Read the full post...

A Lost Opportunity

by John from Altjiranga Mitjina

Trying to break in as a writer in the comic book industry can be a bit like the one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Every step forward you make means you land on your butt after your kick forward. Comic books are a visual medium. An artist can bring a portfolio to an editor at a convention and said editor can sit there and look at it within minutes and decide if this artist is worthy of working on the newest issue of Stupendous Man or not. Trying being a hopeful writer handing over a script to this same editor at a busy comic convention. You’ll be lucky if the editor agrees to take the script and promise that they’ll look at it later. Most times the hopeful writer is told to send for their submission guidelines and mail in their proposal.

The best way for a writer is to find an aspiring artist and hook up...

Read the full post...

Jesus Toothpaste!

by Karen Rayne from Adolescent Sexuality Today with Karen Rayne, Ph.D.

This weekend I went out of town, leaving my family to fend for themselves. On Saturday, my darling husband took my two darling daughters – 6 and 3 years old – to what he heard was a fun new toy store in town. Great, right?

They walk in the door, and the 6-year-old pipes up with “Look, Daddy! Jesus toothpaste!” He takes one look, puts one hand on each girl’s shoulder, and does a 180 out of the store. It may be a fun new toy store, but it’s intended clientele does not include the under-13 set.

When I got home on Sunday, the first thing the 6-year-old says to me was, “Guess what! We saw Jesus toothpaste!” I blinked, figuring I hadn’t heard her correctly. Regrettably, I had...

Read the full post...

A biker, a green thumb, a cracked hand, and a Queen.

by Megan from Velveteen Mind, originally guest posted at Queen of Spain

A random biker on a Harley-Davidson took my picture last week. What I wanted to do was take his picture, but I hesitated. Now, instead of a photo of some random biker holding an i am bumper sticker, all I have is a lame photo of me holding the bumper sticker and the mental picture of him riding off into the sunset, never to be seen again.

Okay, it wasn’t as romantic or dramatic as that. It was nine in the morning and there was no sunset.

This is not the first time that I have hesitated to seize an opportunity. I don’t expect it will be the last. However, I hope with each lost chance for something intriguing, I will lose a shade of that hesitation for next time...

Read the full post...