Airport porters give fellow Asians the brush-off
Vol XXVII NO. 135 Monday 2 August 2004
BY AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
Have you ever heard of the crab mentality?
It is when crustaceans climb on top of each other to reach the summit, regardless of what happens to those crushed at the bottom.
I witnessed a similar phenomena - this time involving human beings - at the Bahrain International Airport the other night.
Rows of porters, from various Asian countries, lined up the roadside, along the entrance to the departures lounge.
The minute a car pulled up, they all rushed to help unload the luggage. If the passenger was an Arab or European-looking, he got the help intended for all passengers, regardless of their colour, race and creed.
If he was Asian - Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani - he was left to fend for himself.
It was a repulsive scene which said a lot about the mentality of people here. Isn't it ironic that there is a hierarchy even in menial jobs? You are rendered services depending on who you are, what your colour is and what your race is - even by people who are oppressed and discriminated against.
You would think that those down-trodden people would at least be sympathetic towards others in the same boat. Think again.
There was an instance when a Bangladeshi worker got out of a car and started loading boxes and bags onto a trolley. As he was trying to make his way up the walkway into the airport, he lost his step and all his boxes and bags came tumbling down. The reaction from the porters - the Asians from the sub-continent turned their backs to him. It was a Filipino or Nepalese porter who came to the rescue and helped him put together all that he had toiled so many years in Bahrain for.
I couldn't stop wondering why those people behave in such a manner and look down on people of their kind. Why is an Arab or a Westerner worthy of respect and service, but not a passenger from their own countries.
Those porters are employed by the airport for the convenience of all passengers. I checked for notices and it didn't say anywhere that the passengers had to be Arab or white to be served by the porters.
Another issue that screams for attention is why is there an army of Asian porters at the airport. Have all the Bahraini job-seekers found jobs overnight?
The airport could recruit Bahrainis and train them to meet, greet and bid farewell to visitors. They would be great ambassadors, especially if taught humility and respect for people - regardless of whether they will pay them tips or not.