Wednesday, 23 February 2005

Not a type of stereo

On Monday morning, the Airbus A319 I was sitting in at Cape Town airport couldn't start its taxi for take-off because the only tug (the flat big wheel thingie that pulls the aircract back) converted for A319's was broken. So the ground crew deliberated and debated and discussed and talked about it, all of course under the watchful eye of this bourgeois frequent flyer from his prebooked window seat.

Then suddenly, a flash of inspiration! Let's all push the aircraft back!. If your average Iron Man can pull a plane, a bunch of guys with walkie talkies can surely push one back. Reinforcements were requested and those already present moved into position. Just as they started to push, the reinforcements arrived, a Condor with six people. One...yes, only one... jumped out and started pushing as well. Obviously I couldn't see this bit, but I imagine the small group below huffed and puffed and swore and grunted and managed to get the plane back far enough for it to slowly make a forward left turn to start its taxi.

The reinforcements were so intrigued and so fascinated by the event unfolding in front of their
Condor that one of the pushers had to knock on the vehicle's window to get the driver to reverse a safe distance as the plane started moving.

And this is what bothered me. Here you have a group of people of different races. Some pushed. Some sat in their car and watched. And who did what panned out very well along nice, crisp racial lines. It pisses me off when people start acting out racial stereotypes, as if they're deliberately confirming them for all to see.

I've always been intrigued by the question "when does a stereotype become the truth?" Is there a critical mass of people believing in it required? Is it dependent on the majority view? And the majority view of whom? Those doing the typing or those being typed? South Africans, I feel, sometimes try their best to entrench stereotypes, as if they deliberately act in a certain way.

And just to show you how powerful these views of people are, you must ask yourself how you pictured the scenario above in your mind. Which groups did you picture pushing and which groups did you picture watching? Why did you think that?

Don't ask me. I'm not telling and its all already in your head anyway.

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