WHO AM I?
In 1989, I was living south of London and was studying and teaching at a small college in an international social development program which had students from around the world. I also managed a small sales company for an American friend and hired students to help me sell his product – a lumbar back support.
This was a time when Irish terrorist attacks in London happened. It was also a time when Israel had been at war with Lebanon and the Lebanese conducted terrorist attacks on Israel. I mention this because two Israeli students helped me sell at the shows in London: Hannah and Israel (yup, named after his country).
These two Israeli students helped me learn how one must “think” and act during a time of terrorism. Maybe some of these experiences will become common place for us soon.
While we traveled by train back and forth to London to sell products at trade shows, we talked at great depth about the differences between Americans, Israelis, the English, the Irish, the Germans, the Scots, the Aussies, the Fins, the Croats, the Dutch, the Danes, the Icelanders, and everyone else in the program. Why do we do what we do? What was cultural? What was situational?
For example, both Hannah and Israel had done obligatory military service. Will we make service a solution for unemployment? The people in their country were always on guard for “home grown” terrorist attacks. So, the procedures the U.K. version of Homeland Security required for me to get product to the trade shows seemed reasonable to them but to me, the American whose country had not been attacked, it seemed excessive – and costly. Welcome to the situational world of “Making England Safe Again”.
From today’s perspective, how much of what I am about to describe about England living with the threat of Irish terrorism, still exists? Once the conflict eased, much would probably be dropped and unlearned. Here’s what I mean.
I could not just bring the product to the trade show in my car. I had to ship it by a common carrier who would verify the contents and deliver them to a secure area at the trade show at least a day in advance so they could be inspected on site. Trade show venues were “soft targets” for the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Also, I could not set up my booth. The stools for customers and backdrop for the booth had to be shipped in advance and trade unions assembled my booth according to a layout I provided (even though it said “put backdrop here, put stools there”) and they ran all electrical hook-ups (“plug extension cord here”).
I once ask about these inconvenient and costly steps and was told: “You’re a nice American chappie, but we are combating terrorism, you see!” So, the first lesson is that businesses of all sorts will now get more costly and inefficient, but lots of jobs will probably be created to deal with our current situation.
WHY AM I HERE?
As an American, in charge of that very little sales enterprise, I was there to sell product! I was a typical Americans, good at selling. The Israelis, well, the Israelis were adept at telling me how things ought to be done. Americans sell. Israelis tell. And, Israelis are proud of being survivors, even more proud of winning.
For example, two women in hijabs sat down in our booth. Israel showed them the back support, described the back support. In an instant, they knew he was an Israeli. They glared wide-eyed at me when they heard his accent. He asked gently, as I had trained him, if he could help them put on the back support. They looked at me with a nearly panic stricken look. They knew he was the enemy! But, they held their tongues and leaned back into the lumbar support and relaxed. Once they felt the proper lordosis,, their muscles relaxed, I saw their eyes roll back and close and knew they were having a moment of bliss.
After a few moments, Israel stepped close and asked: “How is that?” They smiled and said, “Nice! Ve-ry nice!”?
Israel paused for a moment and then he said, “You have a very beautiful country!”.
Then Israel stepped close to me and said, “They’re Lebanese. I flew a helicopter and bombed their country.” And he made a gesture with two palms parallel, one palm dropping down and touching the other. “It was very beautiful from the air.”
The older Lebanese woman called me over. “You Americans! You always support the Israelis! Even here! Even in London!?? Get this thing off me!” I got her out of the lumbar support, tried to apologize. Israel stood to one side, smiling slightly, his arms crossed as they huffed off. I said to him, “Don’t do that again! No war talk in the booth.” He gave a dismissive gesture, “I just complimented them on their country!” he said. “Talk product.” I said, which was obviously the typical American response.
There is no neutrality. Guilt by association.
WHAT DO I WANT?
In the afternoon, I learned that suspicion must trump kindness.
A fat man, carrying several plastic bags, waddled his way toward the booth. He “knew” the relief the lumbar support would give him before he even sat down. I put on the back support and he smiled. He sat and he sat and he sat as the support eased his chronic discomfort. He bought a back support and then asked, “May I leave my packages behind your backdrop?” “Sure!” I said, the epitome of American customer service and watched him tuck them out of sight and walk away.
“Je-an…?” Hannah asked, “Do you know this man?”
“No.” I replied. “He’s a customer.”
“And you let him put packages behind the backdrop? What if one of them contains a bomb? He’s a stranger. You don’t know him. You Americans are too trusting. In my country, you don’t trust strangers.”
So I worried. All day long I worried. I worried until the fat man, carrying more packages, waddled back, sat down, had another back relief session. Then he collected his earlier package stash. Thanked me, smiled and waddled off.
I winked at Hannah as the man peaceably walked away. She said, “You’re lucky. Terrorists blow up people who think they are lucky.”
Ipso facto we should, feel unlucky? Targeted? Fear strangers? Get a terrorist in my soul?
© Copyright 2016, Jean W. YeagerAll Rights Reserved
1989 - ENGLAND - WHAT ISRAELIS TAUGHT ME ABOUT HOME GROWN TERRORISM - #security #Israel #irish #UK #Bombers #PEACE http://goo.gl/vV3pSH
Sample 20% At Smashwords
TH3 SIMPLE QUESTIONS: Slice Open Everyday Life
The first six months of posts for this blog.
CLICK TO VISIT THE SMASHWORDS.COM WEB SITE:
READ SAMPLE CHAPTERS AT BUBLISH:
The first six months of the The Three Simple Questions bLog is available in book form!
JACK MAGNUS / Readers Favorite Review: http://ow.ly/Xrogz
BRENDA HAMMOND / GoodReads Review - http://ow.ly/Xrp2Z
"You should buy this."
MARK KRAUSMAN / GoodReads Review - http://ow.ly/Xrp0G
READ SAMPLE CHAPTERS AT BUBLISH:
WHERE TO BUY:\ TH3 SIMPLE QUESTIONS: Slice Open Everyday Life
AMAZON AUTHOR SITE: http://tinyurl.com/jk9a6e7
AMAZON BOOK: http://tinyurl.com/zxa8v8a
AMAZON KINDLE: http://tinyurl.com/hcgszn3
BARNES & NOBLE: http://tinyurl.com/hzsyxun
APPLE iBOOKS: http://tinyurl.com/hfexmsl