It was very busy at the ferry terminal. Quite normal in the summertime: lots of tourists from the mainland of Europe go to London and people from the UK like to visit countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Once in a while the amount of people is doubled by groups of people from India or Pakistan. And like today they are easily recognized because of the way they are dressed.
While Europeans walk around in shorts and t-shirts, they wear winter clothes and coats.
People like me don't like these big groups, because when you check in and they go first; you'll have to wait for ages.
This time it was not different from other times. A few group leaders in orange jackets tried to get some order and get all these overdressed people in a queue. One was a small guy, a bit overweight and sweating like anything. He kept checking schedules and shaking his head in disbelief and disgust. One was more normal sized, he had a schedule in the pocket of his jacket and was enjoying a cup of coffee while having his feet up on another chair. The third one was a very tall guy with a broad smile that never left his face. He was the one who got all his folk in one line.
A member of staff of the ferry company came over and I could hear her saying: "Could you please tell your people to go a bit more to the back? We want to let the other passengers go first and then handle your groups." The small group leader got very agitated and started to shout while the coffee lover just stayed where he was. He just smiled friendly and didn't do anything. The tall guy just nodded, grinned and started to convince his people to back off a bit. The person of the ferry company dragged a few poles with red string towards the group and like that made a sort of division between the groups of Indian people and the rest of the passengers.
Suddenly a girl popped up from behind the Indians; to me she looked like a typical Dutch girl. Quite tall, slim, on sandals and with a backpack. She apologized to the ferry staff member and got from behind the red line and joined the rest of us.
A boy of about seven or eight observed what happened. His mother stood next to him.
"You better stay close to me", she said. "They might think you belong to that group."
Like his mother he was dressed in jeans and a shirt. But the color of his skin was a lot darker than hers.
He reacted like he was a bit shocked: "They would not do that! I'm different."
"They might not notice, Edward. And why do you think you are different?"
"I wear normal shoes, Mum."
"They do too."
"I have nice hair."
"They do too."
"I have normal clothes."
"They do too."
I could see him thinking about this, having a good look at his and their clothing.
Something his mother was saying wasn't right, he could sense it.
But to be really sure, he slipped his hand in hers.
And it stayed there until they got their boarding tickets.