I went grocery shopping because lack of food makes me do that from time to time. The store wasn’t crowded but I managed to bump into everyone who was there. Literally.
I did the cart-dance with a guy in a gardening hat. We laughed and sidestepped.
While searching for—I don’t know what— something, something in a chicken package, I almost had a three-way collision with two other women; one searching for something, something in a beef package, and the other searching for something, something, something. We laughed and admitted we didn’t have a clue to share.
My journey continued and I met the Twirly-girl. She was about five or six. Spinning, spinning, singing and giggling. Her ponytail was just three rotations from becoming a memory. Her face was gooey, her hands were sticky, and her shirt had evidence of a recently devoured purple popsicle. She was missing a flip-flop. Somehow it got stuck on the rack under the cart. She didn’t care, she was twirling and she was the perfect picture of summertime. I had to pull some serious maneuvers get out of her way (you don’t mess with happy twirlers).
She was so adorable, I was still smiling when I rounded the corner and HE almost bumped into ME. This twenty-something…something shook his head, rolled his eyes and said, ‘Cheesy-ass, Stereotypical grin.’
He was around the corner and gone before I could make a helpful suggestion of where he could go and what he ought to kiss. I stood frozen, debating going after him.
For what purpose? I know what I heard, but could I have been mistaken.
What proof did I have? None.
What could this lead to? That is a very real point to ponder for a person of color. I live in an area where I am outnumbered and I didn’t recall seeing any other minorities in the store.
Finally, he didn’t say or do anything illegal. Or, even, to me.
I chose to let it go. I accepted the damage. Hate won.
I didn’t ‘bump’ into anyone else. I didn’t have any more light, pleasant exchanges. My smile was gone. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone and I suspected the motives of every person I passed. I wondered who was a President ‘Mean-Girl’ follower and how they would justify the incident and/or blame me.
With head bowed, I finished my shopping and made my way to the checkout.
The lady behind me had a basket full of items, I had a cart full. I let her go ahead of me. She was genuinely surprised and thanked me. When it was my turn, the cashier and I exchanged pleasantries but were interrupted by a crash. The person behind me dropped a jar of jelly.
There were no other lines open and no available associates to help. The customer was apologetic, the cashier was full of assurance, but it was a sticky mess. As it was just the three of us, this was the time for action.
I jumped in with the plan. “You get the stuff to clean it up, you go get another jar, I’ll hold the fort and keep people out of the way.”
“Are you sure?”
“You don’t mind?”
“Nope. It’s a race. Go!” We made it fun.
A guy got in line, and after hearing my explanation, offered to drop a jar of peanut butter so we could all have a snack.
Next came Twirly-girl and her mom. I immediately warned her of the glass and pointed to Twirly’s missing shoe. Mom didn’t know the shoe was missing. She scooped Twirly up, deposited her in the cart and thanked me.
The Jelly-lady returned and thanked me for watching her cart and holding her place in line.
The cashier came back, made quick work of the cleanup and thanked me for waiting so she could get it done.
And right at that moment, the woman I let in front of me, came over to thank me once again for being so nice. For some reason, she was extra appreciative. The cashier said that I was really nice and helpful. The other patrons agreed.
I thanked them for thanking me and the last thing I saw as I left the store was that Twenty-something, last in line, frowning as the people around him imitated my cheesy-ass stereotypical grin.
Hate did not win.