Thursday, October 04, 2007

people good...

So after my earlier rant today regarding people and how they can inconvenience your life, or simply just "not make any sense", I had a run in today with a guy who taught me something.

I've always wanted to wear a silver bracelet that was just a little bigger than my wrist. It would mean cutting the bracelet and welding/solder/brazing it together so it was attached to my wrist. I've always refrained from doing this, because I also have a mental image of what would happen if the bracelet ever got caught on something and didn't want it to pull my hand off!

Well, over the years, I've noticed that many of the guys who work at the gas stations in this area often wear silver bracelets. They don't seem to be anything fancy about them, just some grooves, or something simple, but I always notice them. I've wanted to ask them about the bracelet and where they got them, but never felt comfortable in doing so.
Well, over the past couple months I've been going to a new gas station because they almost always have the cheapest price on gas. I've noticed that two of the guys that work there are usually pretty nice. They say thank you, they call me sir, etc... One's a younger guy, and one's an older guy. The older guy has a silver bracelet and the turban also. So this evening on the way home I stopped in to get some gas. The older guy wasn't waiting on me, but he wandered over while counting some money and asked me how I was doing. (At least I think that's what he said, he has a very thick accent). I guess I had a look of puzzlement on my face because he asked me again and gave me a "thumbs up" signal. I smiled, and said, I'm doing well thanks.
So this was my chance to ask him.
I said, I liked his bracelet...
He smiled and said (I'm paraphrasing due to his accent), thanks and said it's "sick".
Sick? He repeated it again, then I remembered hearing about a religious sect called the Sikh. I nodded to say "ah, Sikh" to let him know I understood.
I said, I've noticed a lot of "you guys" wear them? (not trying to sound "racist" but it still came out sounding that way - to me anyway).
He smiled again, and said it's a religious thing.
Ah, so that was what he was saying "sikh". Then he started to point to his turban. This too, is religious, then he said "sing".
I got confused again, and thought maybe now he wasn't saying "sikh" but rather "sing". He then said that the leader of India also wears a turban and his name was Singh!
Ah, I said, still not 100% sure I was understanding him.
There was an awkward silence, then I realized, He said it was a religious thing to wear his bracelet but he didn't explain, so I asked "So, the bracelet, Why do you wear it? Is it like the cross for a Christain?" - He was very happy to explain to me...
He said it's a reminder to "not cheat". He said as one reaches out to accept money from someone, they look down and see the bracelet, and it's a reminder to pull your hand back and not cheat someone.
I thought that was pretty cool. I thanked him. Then he said, if he goes back to India, he will get me a bracelet :) (I'm pretty sure he was kidding :)
So I drove away with some new knowledge. I got home tonight and confirmed what I thought he was saying "Sikh" and "Singh". I didn't think to ask if the bracelet had a name or not.
I'm glad I spoke up, and I'm glad I met a nice Sikh to explain it to me.
Thanks to wikipedia the bracelet is called a "kara".

UPDATE: I've thought about this some more... I will look at these guys that pump gas in a different light now. I had always held a "grudge" or maybe it was a bit of prejudice that they wore those turbans. I thought "if you are going to come to a new country, you should try to fit in better" - but now, I know it's a religious expression. These guys are basically like a nun or priest pumping gas. And where else but America should someone be made to feel comfortable due to their religious beliefs. So, I'll make a conscious effort to remember that in the future, and not so judgmental in my thinking.

1 comment:

valejandras said...

"never judge a book by its cover"