Thursday, February 28, 2008

Man, He Probably Thinks I'm a Subtle Racist

We're having Verizon FiOS installed today, because I am young and hip and want all of my communications to be delivered at the speed of light. Actually, it's just cheaper to bundle my services through FiOS. But anyway, a stranger has open access to my home, so I've been alternately playing the radio and DVDs to conjure up a little background noise.

Well, Mr. Verizon came upstairs a few minutes ago to mess around with the TV. I'd been watching an episode of "Slings and Arrows" on my laptop while I plowed through my lunch. Mr. Verizon was futzing around in back of the entertainment center, and my laptop starting screaming things like "penetration" and "ejaculate." This is not high-brow porn -- it's a show about a theater and the character was using a metaphor to dissect another character's psyche. Yeah, so I decided this was not the most appropriate white noise for a fiber optic installation tech, and shut it down. But then the awkward silence resumed, which inspired me to hop up and turn on 94.7, the Globe.

I've blogged about this radio station before. It's the one that will only play critically respected music -- U2, Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, Jimi Hendrix, etc. I figured I'd be safe, right? I mean, this kind of music might not inspire impromptu dancing, but whatevs. I just wanted something pleasing to the ear. Yeah, except as soon as I turned it on, the mid-day DJ starts yapping about how they are celebrating Black History Month, and that they are exclusively playing black artists today.

Oh, GOD. Mr. Verizon probably thinks that I chose a radio station that plays music by black artists so that I could demonstrate how down I am. Aargh.


Ruth McKee said...

Similar story: I was at the tire shop last month, and as I was pulling in, a middle aged black man in a green shirt (same color as the tire shop uniforms) walked towards me. I waved at him. He kept walking, letting me know he didn't work there. Argh! I wanted to scream after him - "I'm not racist! I don't assume all black people work at the tire shop! It's the shirt!"

Then, about twenty minutes later, I found myself sitting in the waiting room with this same man and one other women. There was TV on to a news channel and we all struck up a conversation about politics and marriage. After a few minutes of he turns to me and just says directly: "I saw you coming in. You thought I worked here because of my shirt." And I was able to say, "Yes! It's exactly the same color..." etc. Phew! Such a relief.

MCV said...

Lucky! I couldn't figure out a way to bring it up without making it even more awkward. "Mr. Verizon, I didn't put on the radio station because they are celebrating Black History Month and you are black. I put it on because I like the music they play, and the theme of today happens to be all black artists."

There's another "oh no!" moment in my life re: race. At my OB/GYN's about two year's ago, I headed back to her office for the post-exam consult. As I sat down, she asked me if I'd met her daughter, which I most certainly had since her daughter delivered the Boy. I responded with a hearty, "Sure have!" And then it dawned on me that she was referring to the slight woman seated next to her, whom I had not actually met.

This was her younger daughter, who had recently joined the practice. What are the odds that a woman will have two daughters who both become OB/GYNs and who both decide to work with their mother. So I'm sitting there, knowing that OB/GYN the Younger knew that I had never laid eyes on her before.

I wanted to stop my doctor as she rattled off health recommendations to explain that I really, really don't think that all Asians look alike.