Two-thirds of my office’s IT department, which is to say “everyone who’s not me”, are recent immigrants to Canada – skilled, fluent in the language, but only living in Toronto for a couple of months now.
They’re good, smart people both, but culture shock is culture shock, so I try to answer questions sensibly as they come up. They’re often interesting, in that challenging-assumptions way that foreigner’s questions can be, and over the course of a conversation about Toronto, Canada, immigrants and minorities, I observed that even though Canada (in and around the major cities, at least) is a pretty tolerant and pluralist society, that racism is still an ongoing problem. “You know, ‘go back to your country’, that sort of thing.”
A few hours later, when I asked him a question about something, he said “I don’t know. I don’t care. Go back to your country.”
So now some variant of the the phrase “I don’t care, go back to your country” is the department standard coworker dismissal. I don’t care, go back to your office. I don’t speak Excel, go back to your spreadsheet. Pass the salt? I don’t care, go back to your sandwich.
I don’t think I’ve made the world a better place here. But it’s hard to tell.