Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Hello, my name is...Freak Magnet Magee

I must look crazy. Either that, or like some sort of nutter-empath, because people feel free to just say the craziest isht to me. All kinds of people, all the time, just up and talk to me, out of nowhere. Yesterday, I was minding my own business, tapping the last of my pre-payday resources at the ATM, when this old, but totally sane looking lady turned to me and said: "We won a medal in the marathon!" Me: Blink. Blink. Blink. As I have managed to totally avoid watching a single Olympic event this year, this totally threw me for a second, since I was pretty damned sure I ain't did no runnin', and I sure as hell ain't did it with her. But once I figured out she was talking about the Olympics, I tried to feign enthusiasm, politely smile, and hustle out. But she wasn't done with me yet. Her: "Blah blah blah he was from Chad...blah blah Italian was in the lead...blah blah blah attacked by some crazy guy...blah blah blah...silver medal!....blah blah blah..." and on she went. Now, we were in one of those little ATM cubbies that hold two machines, a trash can, and a chain that used to bear a pen, but now is just a dangling chain, and nothing else. This is not a space for protracted conversation, lingering looks, or intimacy of any kind. It is a place for one to quickly and anonymously take $20 out of your account, leaving $0.15, without an acrylic-tipped teller being all up in your business. Everybody knows ATM space is a sacred, silent space. People who know each other, who go into the ATM cubby together, stop speaking when they cross the goddamned threshold. What was wrong with this woman? And I was clearly trying to leave. I had my hand on the door to go, and had even opened the door a few times, but she Just. Kept. Talking. And I was too nice to go, "okaybye." So I stood there, waiting for her to wrap it up. (As it turns out, she was full of misinformation anyway, since it was not an Italian in the lead and the American medalist was not from Chad.) So finally, she wraps it the hell up and I make it out the door with her on my heels, and I turn and politely say, "Well, thanks for the information, have a nice day!" because at this point I am sure she is nuts, and the hussy looks at me like I'm the crazy one for talking to her. Like, the ATM space is perfectly okay for giving strangers unsolicited, detailed accounts of shit they don't care about, but it's verboten on the sidewalk. Whathehell? And I still cannot for the life of me figure out why in the name of sweet baby Jesus (why doesn't anybody ever say salty baby Jesus, or crunchy baby Jesus, or sesame ginger baby Jesus? 'Cause that would be tasty, too.) she decided to tell me at all. I mean, she started with this rambling story about the American medalist being from Chad and bringing his immigrant family over to the US or whatever, and maybe she thought I would care because I'm black. Maybe she was just so thrilled at the news that she had to share with the first person she saw. Whatever. The bottom line is I let that fool eat a good five minutes of my life. And then today, freak number two. The nature of my job requires I spend a fair amount of time being shuttled around in hired cars. Sometimes, this can go well, as when there is silence, the driver takes long calls in his native tongue, or we find some common, unthreatening topic of conversation and just chat for a while. Sometimes, however, this goes horribly, horribly awry, as when the driver mistakenly believes I am from his native country (and thus available for talking about intimate family shit), or am a possible date (and thus available for becoming intimate family shit), or am a hooker (and am thus just available. Being mistaken for a hooker, for absolutely no reason at all, other than being brown and around, has happened to me more times than I care to admit.) My driver today started out friendly. He talked a lot, about this and that (this being cosmetic procedures in Latin America, which he'd had and which he wanted [Seriously] and that being hooking up with old ladies from internet dating sights [No. Seriously. I swear, he brought all this up by himself.]). Between the two topics, he asked where I was from. He thought I was "Spanish" (I'm not, and told him so). But sometimes, especially when dealing with a certain type of man, I have to pause to consider my answer, and his motivation, because too many men really do think black and brown women are just, like a damn 7-11, open to anybody all the time. And that really pisses me off. Because it is so disrespectful to assume you have the right to approach me that way. I'm pretty sure his ass would not have said more than two polite words to my white or Asian peers. They would be treated with quiet respect. Or at least some damn quiet. But he sees a brown woman and thinks, gee, this could be something. What? What the hell? I mean, yes, we are all brothers and sisters in the struggle, or whatever, but buddy, you are my driver, and don't fucking forget it, you know? Do you tell the other assistants and executives you drive about your lift-and-tucks, or your dating dilemmas, or even dream of mentioning the word sex? No. So don't think you can act an ass with me, either. I wish it was just him, but it's not. I recently toured a house in the midst of renovations, and got a few too many winks and stares from the construction crew. Now you may be thinking I'm paranoid. Any woman in a house full of construction workers would get that, right? Except there were four other women in the house, all white, and none were being treated to that behavior. They were seen as off limits, and ignored, if not actually respected, but I was fair game. And that's bullshit. I mean, short of reverse-botoxing a scowl on my face and running around with the name of my Ivy-league alma mater emblazoned across my forehead at all times, how can a sister get some respect? Damn. Well now I'm just pissy. I should have written about what I had for lunch.


At 9/01/2004 07:44:00 AM, Blogger deborah said...

Goodness what a day full of weirdos. Sometimes I wonder if I am the insane one when I have days like yours.

I hear you re: the brown/black woman syndrome. It is so funny... sometimes I just decide to walk instead of catching a cab because 9 time out of 10 I will be asked if I am indian, african, lebanese, egyptian, pakistani, south american, mauritian... sometimes i tell them the truth ( sri lankan), sometimes i lie to deal with the agony ... sometimes i tell them i was born in iceland and have lived here since i was young. its the only way sometimes. why is it such an issue. the funniest time was when i was walking to the taxi rank and the driver actuially got out of the car walked over to the passenger side and asked me if i was an indian actress ( if only i looked that gorgeous), but i just laughed and decided to walk cause i knew where this ride was heading. ive been asked to date their sons and also for my number. its hectic. if only my boyfriend thought the same. sigh!

At 9/04/2004 12:54:00 AM, Blogger callalillies said...

Sid, be bold. Ask the jerks who drive you around and insist on disrespecting you, "Do you have such conversations with all those you drive about?" Throw them off guard. Then tell them that you're doing a survey on how limo drivers respect (or disrespect) blacks/whites/asians and so on. See what the buggers have to say then, once you put a little shit up THEIR asses. See how spicy they become. Throw a little ivy league at them. You can't be kind to idiots, unfortunately. I've learned to treat people EXACTLY like they treat me.


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