Short commercial break: Trayvon Martin.

This isn’t a 100% travel- or expatriate-related post, but it’s important enough for me to stray away from those topics for a second.

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(written March 17, 2012)

Trayvon Martin.

This isn’t a 100% travel- or expatriate-related post, but it’s important enough for me to stray away from those topics a bit. As an expatriate, it’s important to me to keep abreast of current events in my home country. The following story is also one of the reasons why I left the United States and, therefore, somewhat relates to my expatriate experiences. I’m going to keep this post short because Trayvon Martin’s story infuriates me to no end, and I refuse to read or listen to anything about it until this cold-blooded racist asshole killer gets locked up. However, I wanted to give this story another platform so that it can reach all corners of the earth if possible.

When I first heard about this, I read that the scumbag killed an innocent & unarmed Black American 17-year-old named Trayvon Martin because he looked suspicious in the neighborhood… even though his father lives in said neighborhood. I checked to see if this boy had any criminal history because sometimes, people protest certain things even though the person involved was less than savory while alive, but of course this boy has no criminal history whatsoever. Then I read that when police searched the 17 year old’s body, they found a bag of Skittles & a can of iced tea – no weapons whatsoever. (I guess that Skittles & iced tea are really fucking lethal weapons that either I didn’t know about or described as such in state or federal legislation since I moved over here, unbeknownst to me.) Then I read that this scumbag is still walking the streets 1 month after he gunned down this innocent & unarmed Black American boy who went to the corner store to buy his little brother some candy & something to drink. As a matter-of-fact, this scumbag just started college courses to study criminal justice!

Who looks more dangerous?
Who looks more dangerous?

Now do you understand why this infuriates me? Now do you see why I refuse to read or listen to anything about this until this scumbag gets locked up & sentenced to no less than 25 years to life?

I’ve said enough; I feel the fury & rage again so I’ll end here.

Please, I beg of you, sign this Change petition. While I’m not listening to or reading about this unless real justice gets served, I suggest that you read more/do your research about this senseless & needless killing on your own. And if you feel so moved, raise hell about this case. One way that you can do that is by calling Sanford (Florida) Police Department’s Bill Lee at (407) 688-5070 (overseas – 001 407 688 5070). Tell Bill Lee to arrest George Zimmerman, the scumbag who killed this boy for no valid reason. Call Bill Lee until he can’t take it anymore. As for me, I’ll repeat this one more time:

I refuse to read or listen to anything about it until this cold-blooded racist asshole killer gets brought to justice. I don’t want to hear anything less than 25 years to life. Anything less is unacceptable.

UPDATE: Over 1,000,000 signatures. GREAT!!! 🙂 http://www.wesh.com/r/30738229/detail.html Keep on signing, keep on calling, keep on raising hell.

New York Times op-ed piece http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/opinion/blow-the-curious-case-of-trayvon-martin.html?_r=1&src=tp&smid=fb-share
I’m not the only one blogging this. http://showedupandshowedout.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/trayvon-martin/
Witnesses to his death heard his cries before he got shot http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/15/2696446/trayvon-martin-case.html
Audio – 911 call http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmnqKotpSD0
Change.org petition to arrest this scumbag killer http://www.change.org/trayvon
MoveOn.org petition to arrest this scumbag killer http://www.moveon.org/r?r=272971&id=37516-14438746-KyhaBix&t=2

10 Things I Hate About You.

I’ll begin with a list of 10 things that I hate about this country. I’d rather start with the bad so as not to give anyone any illusions about being an expatriate.

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If you check(ed) out my last written post, you’ll see that I reached 1 year since my move here.  Looking back at the past year is amazing because it went by so fast.  I’m taking a little time to think about my overall experience here, then put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).  Please bear with me, as it may take at least 2 posts for me to get through this.  I’ll begin with a list of 10 things that I hate about this country.  I’d rather start with the bad so as not to give anyone any illusions about being an expatriate.  I’ve always said from the start that I’d share the full experience, not just the roses & daisies.
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Rude people. 
After my confrontation on the road a few weeks ago, I’m more firm in the belief that this country has some of the rudest people on the planet.  It’s funny because many people back home see this country as prim & proper, uppity & snobbish.  I can say with certainty that that’s not the case.  There are people here who have no scruples, no sense of respect or decency, and they come in all colors & shades & races & ethnicities.  People here will rush past you, bump you & damn near push you to the ground without uttering one “Sorry” or “Excuse me”.  The men have no sense of chivalry – no holding doors, no giving up seats on public transportation, no helping those who are less able (elderly, pregnant, etc.) – and it’s a wonder that women flock to them so much.  What kills me the most about these rude people is their sense of entitlement.  But that’s another rant for another day.
Banking.
I was supposed to open an account with one particular bank before moving.  Because I was so busy with the move, I couldn’t do that until I got here.  (My American colleagues processed their paperwork before moving and they still had problems with the length of time it took to open their accounts.)  This particular bank gave me so much trouble that not only couldn’t I withdraw money when necessary, I had to put my money into someone else’s account until I got my own.  It’s a real pain in the ass to bother someone to withdraw another’s money from one’s own bank account almost every day, especially since the first few weeks had lots of unexpected expenses come up out of nowhere.  I opened an account with a different bank instead; that was also a pain in the ass, but not as bad as the original bank.  Bank processing also takes too long; an account debit can take anywhere from 5-7 business days to clear, possibly longer, and even cash can take a while to clear (unless one goes to the bank face-to-face).  This can make bill paying a real pain in the ass.  This isn’t something I’ll ever get used to.
Taxes
Seriously?  Almost 25% taxes out of people’s paychecks, sometimes more?  Come on now.  (There’s a plus side to this, which I’ll discuss in my next post.)
Driving
Driving on the wrong….. oh sorry, left side of the road is a bit annoying and, at first, nerve-wracking.  One of my American colleagues let me drive her car once.  It was the perfect driving lesson because it was after-work rush hour & getting to her house is like driving through a maze.  But I was so nervous that not only was I gripping the steering wheel, I also don’t remember breathing until we reached her house & got a headache.  Having such narrow roads doesn’t help either because they make me feel claustrophobic.  When it comes to driving, I prefer home, where everything is bigger.
Police
After my confrontation on the road a few weeks ago, I’m more firm in the belief that the police in this country = toy cops.  Rather than rehash my story, I’ll briefly mention a couple of incidents that happened to my colleagues:
– 1 colleague got punched in the face for no reason by a drunkard in broad daylight.  What’d the police do?  Give him a self-defense packet that, aside from a noise-making device, had nothing in it that could help with self-defense.  The man was never caught despite having CCTV almost everywhere country-wide.
– 1 colleague, while waiting for a night bus, saw a man expose himself; there were others at the bus stop (including a child).  I think the man used some racial slurs along with whatever else he said while exposing himself.  The colleague called the police, but nothing happened.
Most of the police force don’t use guns.  I don’t like that.  Which brings me to the next thing…..
Criminal justice system
While the U.S. criminal justice system is by no means perfect, I appreciate it more since moving here.  I prefer law enforcement officers with guns, I prefer stiff penalties for harsh crimes, and I prefer the death penalty for those who truly deserve it.  Here, if a person commits a crime and goes to jail/prison, that person is eligible for parole at or before half of the time finishes.  That’s right… only 1/2.  It’s bad enough that court-imposed time isn’t much anyway, but to only serve 1/2 or less is, in my opinion, a slap in the face for victims & their families.  Here’s a mild example; the harsher examples are. in my opinion, too outrageous to share here.  Only a convicted murderer can get a mandatory life sentence.  And there’s no death penalty.  For more information, HM Prison Service.
Red tape
 Everything here is covered in red tape, better known as bureaucracy.  This form must be filled out & signed, but first you need to fill out & sign that form so that you can fill out & sign the 1st form.  But wait, you have to sign Master Form 1.23456789 & Master Form Part A-2.34567890 to sign those other forms!  Then, when all the forms are signed, it takes damn near forever to get your product or service or etc.  As an example, my laptop crashed 1 month after I bought it.  I brought it back to the store since it was under 1 year warranty, and it took 1 month for it to be fixed & returned.
Social services
Since I work in social services and don’t want to jeopardize my job, I won’t elaborate much on this point.  All I’ll say is that the social service system in this country need to be overhauled & modernized.  In addition, social work here focuses on child protection… but not much else.  This contrasts with the United States, where social work classes/study courses & potential career paths are varied (here’s 1 example).
Benefits
This is what’s called welfare back home, and I’ll use both interchangeably here.  While it’s nice to live in a country that is somewhat socialist (a plus side that I’ll discuss in my next post), the grass isn’t much greener on the other side.  There are some on welfare/benefits who misuse the system with no penalties or fear of punishment, and in my opinion (and the opinions of my diverse colleagues), the United Kingdom government has enabled a sense of self-entitlement & laziness in these people.  {Please note that unlike home, where people of color are (often mistakenly) seen as the culprits in misusing benefits, the culprits here come in all colors & shades & races & ethnicities.  I can’t find a statistics breakdown for this country; I could be searching incorrectly.}  It annoys me even further because I pay heavy taxes here, yet I can’t access any recourse to public funds.  In other words, if I’m injured and can’t work for a period of time, I can’t access unemployment insurance or other benefits since I’m not a United Kingdom citizen even though I pay heavy taxes.  But without using any names, I know someone who is an able-bodied United Kingdom citizen, just had a 2nd child, and refuses to work because benefits take care of everything.  (There are also many European Union citizens who come here & access United Kingdom benefits.)  So basically, I bust my ass working to barely make ends meet, yet my taxes are paying for this person to sit around for most of the day.

Public transportation
 I hate the Tube and avoid it as much as possible.  It’s overcrowded (especially with tourists) & filled with stifling heat.  The buses are annoying sometimes because baby carriages (known here as prams) take up space & contain crying/whining/screaming/hollering babies/infants/toddlers/children-who-are-too-big-to-be-in-carriages.  I’ve turned up my music to drown out noise on many occasions yet still hear crying/whining/screaming/hollering.  And oftentimes, the older children/teenagers & adults are even louder & more obnoxious than the babies/infants/toddlers.  And how could I forget the all-too-common smell that wafts throughout the bus & tells on the many people who haven’t used soap & water every day?  Thank goodness for different over-ground trains (like this & that & these & those) and knowing how to drive.
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There’s more but that’s it for now.  Are there any expatriates that can relate & have a top 10 hates for your current location?
Next post will focus on my top 10 favorite likes about living/working here. Stay tuned.

Run-in.

A few days ago, my job gave me a courtesy car. I got a parking ticket within hours of getting it because I had no idea that I couldn’t park in front of my damn house without a permit. As annoyed as I was about it, nothing that happens with this car will probably top the shit that happened today.

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06.07.2011

And on the other hand, without a gun they can’t get none
But don’t let it be a black and a white one

Fuck The Police by N.W.A. (very graphic lyrics)

A few days ago, my job gave me a courtesy car. I got a parking ticket within hours of getting it because I had no idea that I couldn’t park in front of my damn house without a permit. As annoyed as I was about it, nothing that happens with this car will probably top the shit that happened today.

I left home to get to work and would’ve been on time had this situation not happened.

I turned on the street needed to get to the main street. While driving on the left/wrong side of the road is confusing, it only takes a day or two to get used to it, depending on the driver. (Blog post about my 1st drive on the left/wrong side of the road later.) So I drove and tried getting on the junction that turns into 3 or 4 lanes and goes on the main street. As I did, a van pulled up on the side of me and damn near hits me. The driver honked at me and purposely braked. As a result, I held the horn and honked for a long time (probably over 10-15 seconds). He kept braking on purpose and I kept honking.

Then suddenly, and I didn’t realize this at first, the driver stopped the van. He got out of the car, came up to the car, called me a “fucking cunt” and goodness knows what else, and spat toward me.

You read that correct. He spat towards me. Had he come 1 or 2 steps closer, the spit would’ve landed on me.

I was absolutely furious. I rolled down my window and said “Fuck you! I’m calling the police.”

It just so happened that the driver was pulling into what (I think) is a hardware store just a few feet away from where this happened. I pulled in right next to the van and called the police while he walked into the store as if nothing happened. I can’t remember everything I said, but I do remember describing the driver and giving the license plate number on the back of the van. As I was speaking to the operator, the driver tried to talk/yell at me. I got loud and started crying angry/frustrated tears.

“How fucking DARE YOU spit at me. I’m not from here. You wouldn’t know that because you were too busy fucking spitting at me! Fuck you! How fucking DARE YOU! You don’t fucking spit at me!”

And I just kept talking. Meanwhile, the operator tried telling me to calm down and speak to him, but I wasn’t paying much attention. Also, someone who works in the store tried to come out and get in between us, but I moved away from that person. I wasn’t trying to get physical so there was no point for that person to get in between a goddamn thing. The driver, being the asshole that I’m sure he is on a daily basis, said

“I didn’t spit at you! Where’s the spit?”

I said

“You fucking liar. You didn’t spit at me? You’re a fucking liar. How fucking DARE you.”

The police pulled up and I got off the phone with the operator. One officer spoke with me and at this point, tears were still pouring because I was furious and I felt helpless. If I was home, I’d feel a hell of a lot better standing up for myself, especially since the police at home carry guns while the toy cops here don’t (except certain teams & under certain circumstances). I told him what happened, explaining to him that even if I did cut the van off, I didn’t mean to because I just began driving here a few days ago. In the meantime, another officer attempted to move my car out of the way. (It’s a hybrid and he didn’t know what he was doing, so I moved it myself.) The one officer I spoke with, went over to the driver and spoke to him.

The driver lied.

The officer came back to me after speaking with the driver, who admitted that he cursed at me & called me names but lied and said that he never spat. I said

“Sir, I have no reason to lie. I wouldn’t be sitting here crying in another country, lying about this. I’m telling you, the man is lying. He spat at me.”

The officer looked on the car and said

“Well, I don’t see anything. He must have bad aim. Did any land on you?”

Me: “No sir. But had he come a step closer, it would have.”

I remember the officer asking how long I’d been driving. I said

“Here or in general?”

“Here.”

“Just a few days. My job gave me this courtesy car a few days ago. But I’ve been driving for years, sir.” (Because if I was a shitty driver, that’d justify the driver being a scumbag & calling me a fucking cunt & spitting toward me. Right.) The officer also said that “independent witnesses” and the driver said that I kept honking at him, the driver admitted to cursing at me because I was honking at him, and – here’s the kicker – the store workers said that he’s a regular customer at the store. My response:

“Of course they’re gonna vouch for him! It’s me against them! I’m telling you officer, he’s fucking lying. I don’t care what he says to those people, he’s lying.”

“Was anyone else in the car with you?”

“No sir, I was on my way to work.”

At some point, the officer said that the police wouldn’t do anything about this situation. “We’re just gonna take everyone’s details. I’ve given him a warning. Is that okay?”

“No, but what can I possibly do.”

“How would the police handle this if you were back in the States?”

I was too upset, and trying a bit too hard to hold back extra tears, to give an answer. I just shrugged and said “I don’t know.”

He asked if I needed a ride home because I wasn’t in a good state to drive, and I said no. I was still close to home so it was pointless. Besides, nothing would help anyway. I got in my car, reversed & turned, and the officer went to block traffic so that I could get back on the road.

As I waited for the officer to block, the driver walked to the van, looked at me until he got into the driver’s seat, and smirked at me. I was too upset to say something aloud like “Fuck you” or “Don’t let me see you in the street, scumbag”, but I damn sure said it in my head. When traffic stopped, I told the officer that he was smirking because he knows he was lying about spitting. I drove back to my house, still crying, and parked.

Since I don’t have a parking permit yet, I went around the corner to pay for parking for an hour until/unless I could find a side street with no permit needed. When I came back to the car, a traffic officer was in the process of writing a ticket across the street from the car. I said

“Sir, please don’t tell me that you’re writing a ticket for that white car.”

The motherfucker stared at me for a minute, then asked me not to shout at him. I was visibly upset and (by this time) had a headache, so shouting wouldn’t help with the headache. (In other words, I wasn’t shouting at the motherfucker.) I told him that I wasn’t shouting & wanted to know if he was writing that ticket for my car because I’d just gone around the corner and had proof that I paid for parking. He explained that I had to park right in front of the ticket box and couldn’t park on my street. I was too upset & furious and felt too helpless & disrespected & low to argue with the motherfucker, so I just said “I can’t win. Ever.” and walked to my car with more tears.

I parked in front of the stupid box for about 1/2 hour and cried while trying to gain back some composure. My co-worker D, who I called & spoke with a few times during the situation, called me again and told me to try finding a parking spot on a street with no signs, if I could gain enough composure to drive. I waited a few minutes, drove off, and was lucky enough to find a street near my house where it’s unnecessary to have a parking permit. My American colleague’s husband called me to see what happened (I’d asked D to speak to her at the office) and I cried some more, then I slowly walked back to my street. A walk that’d normally take 2-3 minutes, took 10 minutes because of a mixture of tears, headache, and feeling like shit.

I stayed home for the rest of the day; despite taking a nap, my headache lasted all day and throughout the night. I tried calling family back home, but of course, no one was available. That made me feel abandoned & even more helpless. I was so annoyed that no one was there for me, I decided I didn’t even want to talk about it any more. I didn’t, and still don’t, feel like rehashing the story over again. That’s most of the reason why I’m writing this entry: all of your answers are here.

But it’s never that simple though. The rest of the week hasn’t been all that wonderful either. To be continued in another blog entry…..