Yesterday I had to get up early and drive a long damn-ass way to a specialist who pretty much assured me I was fine. I’ve had a medical woe since late October, and have felt miserable, and after testing me (it was multiple choice on a scantron sheet) and talking to me we decided: (a) I am old and need a cream, (ii) I have to make changes to my stellar diet and (3) I was probably also having a side effect from a medication, because I started taking it in mid-October, started feeling terrible in late October, stopped taking it November 25 and started feeling a bit better a week later.
This was all good news because of course you know how my mind is. I was riddled with cancer, up here in my mind. I was The Riddler. This despite my regular doctor saying, after I asked her if she thought it was cancer, and I quote, “Oh, god no. Sorry; should I have mentioned that to you right away?”
And despite my nurse cousin saying I wasn’t riddled with cancer. And also my mother’s beleaguered neighbor, who is also a nurse. Plus also the physician’s assistant at the urgent care.
STILL. I’d stopped eating or sleeping or trying to not bite my nails. I got self into a froth.
Anyway, once I saw the specialist and he gave me some creams and a prescription and a nice piece of paper telling me to cut out all of my food groups, once that all happened, I decided, you know what? Ima go to my old restaurant tonight and get something delicious and celebrate life.
Back in my old neighborhood, where the neighbors didn’t knock on the door for a piece of pizza when one is delivered to me* (*actual thing that happened here last week) [Dear June: That’s not how footnotes work], I used to go to this Italian place in a strip mall near my house. It’s unassuming yet fairly delicious, and they have a rotisserie chicken I like, but last night I marched in there and got the lobster ravioli, which is $20 a plate, but I love it and I was celebrating life and lobster ravioli is not one of the things I have to cut back on so shut it.
I have to say it was 100% worth it. Afterward, I went to the Harris Teeter that I used to go to 70 times a week. I was out of toilet paper and had been using Kleenex and I need to celebrate life and use the right paper products for the right uses.
As I was walking from the restaurant toward the grocery store, I heard a very sharp,
A security guard was standing next to the Salvation Army bell-ringer. Was the bell-ringer doing something wrong? How exciting. Did he jingle when he should have jangled?
“You know I mean you,” the security guard shouted next, venomously. At this point I was passing a
[wait for it]
[what a surprise this will be]
young man of color, who had a small plastic grocery bag without much in it.
I also want you to brace yourself for the news that the security guard was an old white guy.
The way he said, “You know I mean you” was so mocking. It was so full of hate.
The black kid didn’t follow up with a “Is something wrong?” He immediately held his bag up. “I paid for this,” he said.
It was the way he said it. Calm. Resigned. Like this had happened before, or he’d at least expected it to happen at some point. He also said it in a way that told me he was being completely truthful.
“No you didn’t,” said the security guard. Did he need to shout across the parking lot? Could he not have walked over to the kid? Instead he stood in the lit entry of the store, where everyone could hear. Almost like he was …scared.
At this point I was at the door myself, and trying not to stare, to add to the kid’s humiliation. The last thing I heard was the kid (again, resigned, calm) saying that he had a receipt and that his girlfriend worked in the deli section and that’s what he’d bought, was something over there.
I don’t know what happened. Maybe his girlfriend charged it to her employee account or something. Maybe he sailed past the checkout and it looked suspicious. What I DO know is a few years ago I stole a box of hair dye from there. It was early on in the check-yourself-out days of grocery shopping, and I bought a bunch of stuff and marveled at how cheap it all was. When I got home I checked my receipt and when I scanned the hair dye it didn’t actually scan.
When I took the box back to the store and told them, holding my $10 out at customer service, do you know what they told me?
“Don’t worry about it.”
Don’t worry about it. It’s like that Eddie Murphy video when he paints himself white. So I get free hair dye and this kid gets screeched at for allegedly taking a few slices of ham or whatever.
I also, another time, put on some reading glasses they had for sale there so I could actually read any damn labels, and took them right home on my head. Carried those reading glasses out like they were the hero of the football game.
No one noticed that, either. Also, they don’t carry football heroes on their heads, do they?
What I wanted to do last night was go back outside and stand next to the kid but I didn’t. I didn’t want to be the old busybody.
But I wanted the security guard to know that someone was watching, and that he couldn’t get away with what he was doing.
Be a security guard, sure. Absolutely. That’s your job. Ask the kid to come back in and question him in a room or something. Be, oh, I don’t know. Respectful. Don’t bellow hatefully at him from yards away. And while you have your eagle eye on the black kid, there, Profile-y, the old white ladies are carrying Clairol and reading glasses out by the gross.
That kid and I have opposite problems. He’s too visible. He can’t shop or drive or grill in a park or sell water or walk into his building or throw out his trash in his complex without someone staring at him nervously. I could wear flaming pasties and people would barely glance at me.
I guess all I can do is never shop at that Harris Teeter again, or maybe I could file a complaint. Be a Karen. Get a horseshoe haircut and demand to speak to the manager.