16 Feb., A day without immigrants

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There’s an Asian buffet not far from the office that I visit almost every week. I have my news sites routed through the Feedly app, but I didn’t look at it yesterday. For a couple of months I’ve been getting takeout at the restaurant. There’s enough time to grab a few items and get back with a little time to spare before I have to start working again. So I left at about 11:30 to go get lunch. The first thing I noticed when I got in the parking lot was that it was empty. Normally the front and one of the side parking lots are nearly full. On Thursday there was nothing. My initial thought was that I had arrived at some really odd time and there’d be maybe two or three people in there eating. I get to the door and there’s a sign saying

CLOSED
SORRY FOR THE
INCONVENIENCE
FEBRUARY 16

Before I left I had noticed in Facebook’s ‘Trending’ sidebar something about the ‘A day without immigrants march,’ but I didn’t click it. Honestly I assumed that it was some sort of counter-protest held by the President’s supporters. It just seemed like some group bigoted showings-off that people who seem like sore winners would put together.

When I got back to the office I typed into Twitter, ‘Evidently there’s something called ‘A day without immigrants. Looks like Austin is getting its douche on today.’ I mentioned it to a coworker who told me what was really going on. This was actually a good thing, but it wasn’t universal. After I got off work I called another restaurant to see if they were open and the manager said that he’d gotten several calls asking the same thing but didn’t know why. I explained to him what had been happening.

The thing is, I’ve become so jaded with people that I often expect the worst from them. In this case this was a gesture to demonstrate just how much of what we enjoy here in America comes from people who weren’t born here. The fact that some businesses stayed open and their owners and managers didn’t know about the protest tells me that we’re going to need more reminders of this truth in the future.

Immigrants are part of our culture and always have been. We need to show our appreciation, not take people for granted. Especially now that things have become so clearly uncertain.

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