Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Other Foot

About a month, ago, my girlfriend and I were driving down the street and stopped for some gas. When I finished pumping the gas, I walked back to the door to find my girlfriend to a 45- to 55-year-old, disheveled, white male through her window. The window was about half-way down, so he had plenty of clearance to reach through and grab her in some way.

When he saw me, he said, "How you doin', man?"

"I'm good, but I'm gonna need you to step back a little."

My initial impression was that he was asking for money. When I saw the clipboard, I was reminded of a time when a previous girlfriend opened the door to someone asking for census information. She gave him all sorts of information, which concerned me, but not as much as the fact that she stood there in the doorway talking to this stranger while I was away. He could've pushed her inside and done anything to her.

He complied and my girlfriend explained that he had some kind of election-related petition. While walking away, he said, "Sorry, man. I just wanted to know if you were registered voters.

I wasn't askin' fer money or nuthin'."

He sounded so damned pitiful. And his general demeanor suggested that plenty of people had similarly misjudged him in the past... and that he'd more or less learned "his place."

Plenty of times on this blog, I've gone on about how unfair it is that people see me and grab their purses, cross the street, follow me around the stores, etc. Basically, taking a look at me and assuming the worst said more about them than it did about me... but it still made me feel like shit.

Well, now I'd done the same thing to someone else... and, once again, I felt like shit.

That's all.


Angie said...

Don't be so hard on yourself he shouldn't have been so close. All up in the damn window. If you did that shit to a white woman - your ass would have backed right up into some handcuffs!

Err on the side of caution baby....err on the side of caution.

: )

Liz said...

I 100% agree with Angie! You can't be too careful about folks. Gone are the days of trusting people like that.

Keith said...

He still could have been a serial killer. A clipboard and a smile doesn't mean a thing if he has a knife in his pocket.

At the very least he could have been making a go at identity theft. I've seen that out here where people offer to register you for voting - they say all they need is your name and your social.

B. Good said...

I had a similar thought today - judging someones actions toward me when my actions may not have been the best either.

Don't have much to say about it though.

Noah Brand said...

Belated comment here, but I know EXACTLY how you feel, West. I've jumped to conclusions about people on superficial stuff way too many times, and I feel like a bastard every time.

One of my real moments of awakening about race in America was when a black guy felt bad about assuming the worst of me based on my race, and I was amazed. I was amazed because it had never occurred to me that that happened to black people. And THEN I felt stupid that it had never occurred to me. You see where the recursion loop goes from there...