Letters from the Issue of January 3, 2002

Nut Case #5: And thanks for reminding me why I left Miami

George Briand
Miramar

Nut Case #6
Is it just me or are all these people horribly rude? What is wrong with Miami's Latin culture? I am compelled to find some answers. Let me be more clear: Why are Latin immigrants the rudest people on the planet?

I support a multicultural society. That's why I love living in Miami. But I hate dealing with business owners and employees who ignore, overcharge, and even give me dirty looks because I am a gringa. Today I went to an auto mechanic (Midas, a national chain!), and no one spoke English. Then later I went to the store and patiently waited in line. Everyone around me was speaking Spanish and I watched people walk in and buy things ahead of me. I didn't understand what they were saying, but I knew they were all ignoring me and I couldn't get any service. Irate, I walked out.

In an earlier experience, I ordered coffee at one of those walk-up counters. (I am sure there is a Spanish name for them, but I am unaware.) I was waited on only after everyone else left. I understand enough Spanish to know that I was being charged more for my coffee, but didn't know enough to complain. So I learned how to order my coffee in Spanish (with the proper accent) and now I am charged the same as Spanish-speaking people.

I am constantly shoved in crowded places with no apologies. People cut in line in front of me. I sat through a movie where the Spanish-speaking people next to me were louder than the movie itself. I've opened doors for elderly people who then shoved me on their way through. I understand we live in "northern Cuba," but I am offended by the racism I am subjected to just because I am not Latin. At my worst moments I find myself wishing that all the Spanish-speaking people in Miami would get on a sinking ship!

Can you explain how this has happened and try to give me some insight? I am not one to say, "Well, this is Miami and maybe it's just not for me." I will fight and stay in this paradise, but I am growing an extreme hatred for the Latin community. Help! I am not a racist but feel as if I may become one if I am treated this way much longer.

Michele McNulty
Miami

Nut Case #7
No, Michele, it's not just you: What causes rudeness in Miami? I think we need a sociologist to answer that question. But I like living in a multicultural community. I do not want to live in an all-Anglo community any more than I would want to live in an all African-American or all-Latin community.

A few years ago, when Tropic magazine was part of the Miami Herald Sunday edition, there was a tongue-in-cheek slogan contest that started with: "You know you're from Miami when..." The winning slogan was: "You know you're from Miami when you go to New York and you can't get over how friendly everyone is."

Well, you may be from Cuba, Haiti, England, France, Brazil, or whatever country, but you're in America now, and Americans take pride in being known the world over for their friendliness. Get with the program, folks, or the economy here is going to end up just like that in Latin America, and then where will you go?

Also -- and this goes for any immigrant from any country -- learn how to speak the predominant language of the country where you live. It will open employment doors for you, help to break down cultural barriers, and help you to make friends.

Richard K. Claycomb
Miami Beach

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