The tall, slender, young Somali man ordered fried chicken -- appropriate, considering his likely employment at Tyson Foods -- at the convenience store counter the other night. I was behind him, waiting to make my purchase.
He politely told me to go on ahead of him, despite the fact he was there first. I motioned for him to go ahead.
"Thanks," he said, in heavily accented English.
"Somali," the white, ball-capped, clean-cut young guy behind me quitely told his equally young and clean-cut female companion. "I'd bust their heads. I don't need no excuse."
Suddenly the odor of hot fried chicken was overwhelmed by the stench of bitterness.
Here we have a man, who was minding his own business, being more or less threatened by someone else for just being in a particular place at a particular time.
Shelbyville's gained national attention for the influx of foreigners, many of which fill, or are accused of filling, jobs some feel should be held by Americans.
It goes without saying at this point that many Americans aren't very accepting of these foreigners.
I'm not going to defend an American company for importing foreigners to fill positions, whether or not there's any truth to the claims that Americans refuse to do those positions or demand more pay than rich corporate officials want to dole out.
I wonder if those jobs could be automated. If robots can cost-efficiently build large objects such as vehicles, surely they can kill and skin chickens.
Others may argue the Somali in the store shouldn't be in the United States, or at least in Shelbyville, just because he's a foreigner.
And some people seem to be simply angry at everything and looking for any excuse to rant. Take a look at some of the responses to stories and blogs on our web site, www.t-g.com. Some of those people would have already exploded to pieces years ago if they'd been born as bombs instead of humans.
So you don't want foreigners, expecially those illegally here, in Shelbyville? Then speak out reasonably -- not with foul language or threats -- but take action, which is arguably the so-called "American way."
Complain to Tyson Foods, as if you think you'd be heard. Call the INS and tell them you don't think they're doing their jobs effectively. Demand a raid, as has happened in other cities.
It's uncalled for when a polite young man just buys fried chicken -- paying our country/state back with a few cents in sales taxes, by the way -- and someone two persons back stands behind him muttering unreasonable threats.
We have enough problems already in Shelbyville. There's no excuse for causing more by wanting to attack someone just because they're not the "right" -- in someone's eyes -- race or religion. Channel the anger into something more productive.
-- David Melson is a Times-Gazette copy editor/staff writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 684-1200 ext. 229.