I’m enjoying, or maybe enduring lockdown in central Manchester. It is a wonderful City – not too big, not too small. Diverse, friendly, creative. It’s also a bit of a building site – as I type the noise from the pavement widening outside is echoing between the buildings where I live.
One particular building work always amused me. Since Lockdown 1, back in March 2020, the building had had it’s cladding worked on. Cladding went on. Cladding came off. Cladding went on. Cladding came off. You get the picture.
Last week as I walked down the canal I saw some someone surveying near the building – and I thought, now’s my chance to ask what’s going on. Was it a training site for installers? Surely it can’t take nearly twelve months to replace cladding on a building no more than 8 stories high?
I really wish I hadn’t asked. The answer was truly depressing and sad.
The man proceed to tell me that the building was riddled with issues. He was foreman of this work. Poor workmanship he said. No firebreaks he informed me. He had no idea how it passed it’s inspection.
And then proceeded to tell me “You know why we’ve got to fix it? ‘cause it was the foreigners that built it”.
I stopped him quite forcefully and suggested that probably wasn’t the issue, and that also British worker sometimes fell short on quality.
“They needed translators on site and everything.” in an attempt to justify his racism.
I fell silent, unable to understand the ignorance and arrogance before me, and then continued my walk without another word.
I’m sure this man works with people who might not have a British passport, or might not be white (like he is) – I’m sure they’d be delighted how he dismissed people from other backgrounds. And I’m sure he doesn’t call them “foreigners” to their face, but maybe suitable words like colleague, friend, boss, mate instead.
I just don’t get what is wrong with people – why do people assume that as one white, seemingly British person talking to another I’d be complicit with their racist undertone.
Well I’m not and I’ll call them out every time.