August 15, 2007

A Native Immigrant

Justin Katz

From time to time throughout my life, I've been asked whether I was from another country. As far as I can recall, the question has always been posed by females, so I've generally taken it as an intended compliment — some variation of "So are you exotic as well as dashingly handsome?" (On the other hand, perhaps I have some subtle, undiagnosed speech impediment that women especially pick up as an accent, with foreign birth being the charitable interpretation.)

Well, today, the Filipino maid of the family for whom I've been working asked my nation of origin, with her explanation being that some of her immigrant friends back on Long Island are carpenters. I think I'll go with the assumption that she thought a carpenter listening to Chopin must be Polish, rather than consider whether I ought to feel stuck in a job that Americans just won't do.

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Maybe it's that self-effacing sense of humor that those women find so charming.

But I don't get where carpentry is a "job that Americans just won't do". I always thought of it as a skilled trade. It's certainly one I *can't* do, rather than one I won't do, and I know they charge as much or more per hour than I make.

Posted by: Thomas at August 16, 2007 12:51 AM
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