Monday, May 26, 2008

Impatient White Men

I had an interesting experience this evening.

So I was closing the Deli and these two regulars (black ladies) come in. And I'm bullshitting with them and they're deciding what they want to get and as I go to get the first thing they decide on this older white guy comes up all in a rush and says "can I get some mustard?"

I literally stop, spoon in hand, half leaned in to the salad case, give him a small polite smile and say "Just a second, sir" and go back to what I was doing. The ladies ask to sample something, so I get that for them and say "I'll be right back" and go grab him his mustard. I then proceed to mix up the ladies order a little bit. I laugh and shake my head and go "that guy screwed my groove all up". One of the ladies says "Oh, the mustard?" I say, "Yah, damned white guys are SO impatient!" They both laugh and I say "Seriously, it was like I could see his foot tapping from here! He's lucky I was so nice to him" and the same lady says "Yah, he was lucky I am in such a good mood, acting like we weren't even here!"

And I took a second when she said that, because the scenario flashed back through my head and I recalled the way in which he approached and asked me for help and it was just SO TRUE. He did act just like they weren't even there. I said something along the lines of "I know, right?!" and we laughed it off and shook our heads and said some pleasantries and they were off to shop.

It felt good that I caught his behavior, didn't jump to help him (I might have when I was starting out in customer service, when people come up to you with that sort of energy it's easy to want to) and could commiserate with my regulars. I felt like an Ally for a second.

But it also hit home in another way, because I am very guilty of impatience often enough, of feeling like my circumstances are unique enough that I should get a pass or get to move to the front of the line. And really considering how I came to be that way, privilege has got to play a part. I need to keep that in mind next time I start feeling entitled to special treatment.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. And great on you for catching yourself. This used to happen to me from your side when I worked retail and was a server. But it happens to me from the woman's side ALL the time. Airports, restaurants, restrooms, anywhere. So I appreciate that you recognized it, didn't respond, and are watching it for yourself. An ally's work is never done. :)

    Thanks again.


whatsername reserves the right to delete your comment if you choose to act like an asshole, so please engage respectfully