Monday, June 04, 2007

I Almost Smacked A White Woman!!

Attention-grabber, ain’t it?

Here’s the story:

I was standing in line at the local post office (I live in a middle-class suburb; fairly diverse, as far as middle-class suburbs go), as I had inexplicably run out of checks and was in need of a money order so I could pay my rent (silly mistake, I know). The line was long, but not stretching to a ridiculous length. So I, being the patient man that I am (excluding the momentary lapses in judgment when I agree to go shopping with…hello Spirit O’ Trinidad), didn’t possess the insane need to badger anyone and everything I could think of during my time spent in line. Sadly, the people around me did not share my patience.

To be fair, it was extremely humid outside. Couple that with the fact that the post office was not air conditioned, one can imagine how irritable 15+ individuals can become, and how quickly they can reach their respective boiling points. However, the complaining was particularly loathsome.

“Why don’t the other workers get off their butts, come out here and do their jobs?”

“Federal workers are so lazy.”

And my personal fav:

“They’re [postal/Federal employees, I presume] the reason my health care bill is so high!”

If that last complaint failed to register as logical or meaningful in any way, you and I would be in the extreme minority in this alternate realm of the universe, as it drew heavy agreement and even light applause. In fact, it was so illogical that I chuckled to myself, only to turn around and find a middle-aged white woman shaking her head up and down at me, obviously mistaking my chuckle to be an act of agreement. I quickly turned around, so no one else would expect me to join in as they turned simple reason and common sense on its head.

By this point, I had been waiting for about 20 minutes and was two spots behind the front of the line. Then, it happened: an old couple (in their late 70’s at least, walkers supporting both) waddled in and cut to the front of the entire line! (GASP!!)

Literally, the entire room fell silent. The shock on everyone’s face instantly reminded me of the feeling I had (and what must have been the look on my face) when Chris Webber called that infamous timeout during the NCAA National Championship. The silence lasted for about 20 seconds until one guy yelled (with a true Jersey accent), “DA FUCK IS THIS?!?” Of course, everyone else began singing the same song in perfect harmony.

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Yes, the old couple cut the line. And yes, everyone had been waiting for their turn within the confines of a building that was now not only hot and humid (remember: without the aid of central air), but also funky. I get that. But the couple obviously lacked calcium intake, as neither could stand up straight. The wait would have been too long for them to continuously stand up, and the air was so thick, I was beginning to suffocate. Can you imagine what that would have done to these two individuals who couldn’t stand without the assistance of 4 extra legs each??

The woman behind me, who obviously gained confidence from the “Da fuck is this” guy, began complaining to me specifically. She angrily asked, “Did you see them walk in front of you?” I calmly replied that yes, I indeed had witnessed the two of them walk to the front of the line. However, I wasn’t going to beat up or scream at an elderly couple, and I would just let it slide. The look she gave me in response appeared to be one a child gives his/her mother after being force-fed brussels sprouts. And since she was looking at me, it looked as if she thought I fed her said veggies.

Now I was annoyed. Partly because I also was (secretly) aggravated that the old couple cut to the front of the line, partly because of the hot/humid/funky room I was in, but mostly because this woman behind me looked at me in absolute disgust.

The lazy Federal employee who had somehow managed to steal money meant for health care coverage asked, “who’s next?” I was going to reply that the old couple could go, since I had already made my stand. Little did I know I would be removed from said stance.

What happened next came surprisingly and dangerously close to altering my future.

Before I could get a word out, the woman behind me screamed, “HE IS! OVER HERE!!” and then began adding pressure to my lower back (I say that she was “adding pressure” because at that point, I didn’t know what she was trying to do. I soon learned…).

As she “added pressure” I stood my ground, wondering what was going on behind me. However, the harder I tried to stay put, the harder she applied pressure. Then, being the Williams College educated individual that I am, it hit me: “This woman is pushing me!!”

*Allow me to take this moment and ask: have you ever snapped? Well, I have. When it has occurred in the past my vision turns royal blue (as opposed to the “red” that has been popularized in movies). It has happened to me twice, and both moments ended in suspension for me (as I was in junior high school) and pain for the other individual. I am not proud of this, and I have vowed to never allow it to happen again. Keep this in mind…*

Oh, also note that the rest of this story ceases to possess comedic presence; at least for me…

When I realized what was happening, I snapped! Thinking back on it, my vision turned royal blue (classic sign for me), and my hands stiffened and extended. People, my pimp-hand was strong!! I quickly turned around, black-hand side showing, and for .97 seconds, I was going to smack this woman. And I swear: had I not been able to see her face, filled with fear, I can’t see how I would have been able to stop myself.

Luckily for me, I did see her face. I immediately put my hands down, took a deep breath, and told the woman not to push me. I am sure it was heard with far more anger than I wished, but I spoke as calmly as I could. I turned back around, went to the counter and paid for my money order.

For those .97 seconds I fulfilled every violent black male stereotype while in the presence of all of these white folks, and I could not have felt more embarrassed. When I got back to my car, I realized had I followed through with my hand, had I not seen her face, everything I had worked so hard to obtain might have been gone. A 6-ft. black man pimp-smacking a white woman in public never ends favorably for the black man, but it ends especially poorly in one of New Jersey’s last “Good Ole’ Boy” strongholds.

Did I learn a lesson? Yes: I will never, ever allow myself to run out of checks.


solgenique said...

"3, 2, 1. 1, 2, 3. What the heck is bothering me?" I'd work on taming that "pimp-hand" for good. If you don't, I've got two words for you: Harvey Dent.

[Aside: Is this singing when somebody cuts you off a Jersey thing? I recall a post involving Brothers Lightness and Smartness were the same phenomena was observed. I believe the musical selection during that incident was entitled "Throw Some D's" by one Rich Boy.]

Brother Spotless said...

Solgenique, what's slightly scary is the fact that I thought I had tamed it. I've worked on controlling it since junior high, so I don't think it has been an accident that I have avoided snapping since then. There have been many moments when I felt "the hulk" coming on, recognized it, and got out of the situation. This leads me to believe that for some reason, I didn't think I could get out of that situation. Not that I physically could not leave, but something within must have led me to believe (on some level) I was trapped in that space. Needless to say, I have more work to do in terms of controlling my temper.

And yes, Jerseyans sing the song often, finding the most passion in its lyrics when another cuts them off. I really found myself dumbstruck that these people were able to treat an elderly couple with such disgust. Maybe they were upset because the Sopranos will obviously have to end leaving some questions unanswered...

Funmi said...

Excellent storytelling.

Brother Smartness said...

These stories keep getting better and better...

Brother Lightness said...


Brother Spotless said...

I'm glad ya'll are amused. Meanwhile I came .03 seconds from being the latest edition of "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong."

Brother Lightness said...

Word up. Yours would have been a cautionary tale for aspring Negro legal professionals.