Years ago, I had a job working for a film director(Ousama Rawi) in Toronto. I was hired as a gopher initially and busied myself completing tasks such as figuring out which door matched each key on a ring of a what seemed like hundreds, or sourcing a missing console radio button on one of the K-cars used for errands. Rawi seemed like a nice enough guy, but demanded deference from his employees. It was rumoured that his secretary had a paint chip that she had to match his coffee to in order to avoid his disappointment. Okay, so perhaps he was a handful, but he was respected in his field and still is as far as I know. There were few remarkable days in his employ except for one:
On this day, Rawi requested that I drive him and two other staff members somewhere. I met them at the car and pulled my seatbelt on as the three of them climbed into the back seat. I drove the car out of the parking lot and followed his demands, navigating down Spadina and through a largely asian chunk of the city. Rawi and his staff started laughing and making fun of the asian people crossing the street in front of us, or gathered on the busy sidewalks in front of the shops. The comments coming from the back seat were appalling and juvenile. I listened, considered, and then decided not to fold, not to laugh along for the sake of fitting in. I decided to concentrate on driving and avoid any hint of showing approval of their remarks. I looked back at them in the rearview mirror and then ahead to the road. They kept at it for what seemed like a very long time before Rawi asked me to drive back to the studio. I thought it was odd that there seemed to be no destination, no point to the trip. We arrived back where we started and got out of the car. Rawi then, put his arm around me and brought me into the office. He introduced me to everyone and slowly, it dawned on me that the little car ride was a test. He wanted to see what kind of character I had. Would I laugh along at something completely inappropriate and disgraceful simply because someone in power was doling it out? He was curious, and sneaky but he got his answer. Rawi was very kind to me from that moment on and had the studio not closed, I'm sure I would still have a place there.
I've been thinking of that day lately. Now, more than ever, I feel it's necessary not to fold, not to enable hatred by allowing the terrible sentiment delivered in the package of an offhanded joke. It's time to summon your good character to action. We are all being tested on a global scale.