03 July 2009

Slice of Life (mine)

A scene in a crummy little town in Kentucky, next to a semi wreck that has closed both sides of the interstate and forced everybody to go 15 miles on a dinky little state road...

I walk into the gas station.

The lady behind the counter finishes helping the customer in front of me, then starts sorting change.

I stand there and wait patiently for her to finish.

Eventually she runs out of stuff to fiddle with. Without looking at me, in a carefully guarded tone of voice that says "I'm being as polite as possible under such trying circumstances," she says "yes?"

I get as far as "how do I--" before she interrupts and tells me how to find the detour.

Halfway through, a man walks into the store and says something like "did you mean the red light out that way?" (Obviously he was looking for the same directions.)

The lady behind the counter drops talking to me entirely as she shifts her full attention to the other guy. The directions get clarified. I stand there and listen in. The man nods and leaves.

I say "thanks." The lady completely ignores me.

I follow the man through the door. He tries to close it on me. Then he goes back to his truck without looking back.

I usually don't bother getting offended by stuff like this, because it happens so often that it's 'normal'. But in the spirit of describing what I see that other people don't, I thought I'd share.


Janiece said...

Thanks for sharing this. Being a recipient of white privilege, I'm not exposed to this type of off-hand bigotry, and it's good to be reminded that my experience isn't everyone's.

And to that incredibly rude woman and the equally rude truck driver?

Shame, you ignorant douche bags. Shame.

MWT said...

I used to think that it was me, that I was doing something wrong to make people dislike me so much.

Thinking about it now, though, it occurs to me I ought to live somewhere where white is not the dominant race for a while, see if I can figure out which parts are offhand bigotry and which parts are due to my incomprehensible body language.

Jeri said...

That sucks, MWT - sorry. :(

Eric said...

What a bitch. I'm really sorry you had to deal with that bullshit, MWT.

Carol Elaine said...

MWT, I'm sorry that you have to go through such things. It's unfathomable and unforgivable.

If you want to give L.A. a try sometime, whites are actually in the minority, though it depends on what part of L.A. you're in. It takes a lot for us to look at someone askance. Especially in Venice.

MWT said...

I've visited LA a bunch and have a lot of relatives there. I've noticed that whites are only about a third of the population there. The first time I went (two weeks, back in '94), it was a bit of a culture shock. Then we went back to Indiana (95% white) and it was a culture shock again. ;)

On the whole, though, it seems a bit too large and frantically paced for my tastes.

Carol Elaine said...

Ah. I'm such a city girl that I can't even imagine living in a slow-paced town. Visiting, yes, but not living.

There might be parts of L.A. County that are slower paced, such as San Pedro or Altadena, but then again, I realize that what's slow paced for me might not be for you.

L.A. is an odd city, but I've grown to love it in the 25+ years I've been here.

Mark said...

I found it interesting to travel through SE Asia some years ago. In Cambodia, the whites I travelled with and I were all treated as demi-gods. (Cambodia wasn't really open to the west at the time -- we were a real novelty.)

But then I went to Singapore where, again, I was a minority, but not a centre-of-everyone's-attention minority. More of a superfluous didn't-really-matter minority.

It was a VERY interesting paradigm shift!

I should add that once in Cambodia I also had the rather less salubrious, fear-for-my-life-because-I-wasn't-a-local experience.

The whole trip was a real eye-opener.

MWT said...

Welcome to my blog, Mark.

Another of my regular readers had some similar things to say about a trip to India.

And in general, I do think more white people need to do some world travelling in countries where whites aren't dominant, so they can experience firsthand what things look like as a minority.