Sunday, November 6, 2016
More adventures in multiculturalism
The hideously run In Service Days of my library system are one of the banes of my existence, but oddly I didn't much mind this year's In Service Day. In fact, I enjoyed it immensely. I think the key for me this year was in flying to Rome and observing it at a distance, unaware it was happening, sipping fresh juices on a couch in a Renaissance Palace, looking out over the baroque domes and roof gardens of the city. A simple solution, but elegant.
Nevertheless, upon my return, reports reached me, fascinating reports. And my favorite report is the one about lunch. Well, it's about lunch, but it's about multiculturalism as well.
My library system's feverish commitment to diversity and multiculturalism is of the highest order, so long as you don't count who we hire for any managerial positions, or really any positions of authority, or how we treat the public, all of which would fit in comfortably with Minnesota in the 1950s. But other than that we're right on top of it with mandatory training that has no practical application, occasional public programming, and a concerted effort to hire diversely in direct proportion to whatever job pays least.
It's a start. Possibly an end too. But that doesn't mean my library system has given up. So this year when it came time to order the In Service Day lunch, instead of the hideous gruel known as the Jimmy Johns box lunch, it was decided we would use a local Thai cafe to provide the food.
Thai food! Thai owners! Diversity. Multiculturalism!
A spark of gustatory thrill ignited through the stomachs of our library community. Could we possibly be getting tasty, interesting, maybe even real food on In Service Day?
The day came. I woke up and went with my wife for a cappuccino at Sant' Eustachio before a wander through ancient streets to astonishing sights of pure loveliness. But back in Minnesota my co-workers went to In Service Day. And the thought of a Thai lunch sustained them through strange, droning lectures. Expectation built until the noon hour. Lunch came. And it was in boxes.
Yes, boxes, boxes with meat sandwiches on white bread. Boxes with condiment packages of mustard and mayonnaise. Boxes with bags of potato chips. Somehow the Thai Restaurant had provided an even worse box lunch than Jimmy Johns had. I didn't even know such a thing was possible. What happened?
In a spark of commitment to diversity the library hired a Thai Restaurant. But as evidence that none of the four years of diversity training had any effect they specially asked for boxed lunches of American Food.
It was very funny. In Rome. Nibbling grilled eggplant. And drinking a lot of wine.