Sunday, July 27, 2014

No.

Sometime last month, or maybe even 2 months ago, I was walking out of a therapy session (more on that-- maybe. but maybe not) and for some reason happened to look at my tire on my front driver side. It was wicked bald and on the inside the wires were starting to pop out. Same thing on my other front tire. With a drive up to Detroit the next day, I wasn't sure they'd last another 24 hours. Literally. My therapy mind quickly jumped to problem solving-- and before too long I was driving up Cleveland Ave looking for a used tire place.

I found one, but it wasn't the one I was looking for. I doubt it would have popped up on google. It was small, dirty-- and open. They had the tires I needed and the price was the same as the bigger googleable shop further down the road. As one of the fellas switched my tires out, I sat watching a world cup match on the oddly nice television-- inside the terribly build addition to the garage- that was now the office. Next to me on the chairs that were once white, three women chatted in a language I didn't understand. They were wearing clothing I couldn't imagine wanting to wear. A young woman (a teenage perhaps) wandered in and out of the door in the office-- seeming both confident and a bit on edge. The shotty addition, the dirty chairs, and the unfamiliar women were honestly part of what made me glad to stop by. The place wasn't comfortable to me- but I appreciated it. 

My tires were replaced, I paid in cash (another thing I liked), and I drove on back home. 

Just the other day, when I finally decided to pay attention to my car, I headed back to that same tire shop to replace the back tire- that somehow had an oddly flat spot on it that thumped every time it rotated. I was glad to see the shop was once again open, but with a little less hustle and bustle. It seemed quiet. As I pulled in, the same mechanic who replaced my tires last time remembered that back tire (which he told me at the time needed replaced). Once again, I waited on the dirty chairs, this time watching the ever disturbing news by myself.

As he came in, I got up to walk out and pay him. But he stopped and sat on the desk in the corner.

Wait a minute...

(pause) mhm?

You Married? 

huh?

You married?

ha- no.

You have a boyfriend?

i've got a partner... do you have a boyfriend?

(pause)

I'm looking for you.

huh?

You. I'm looking for you. 

Oh. uhm, no?

Through his thick accent, I actually couldn't understand him that well. He said something more-- maybe two or three things more... as i lowered my gaze to the ground and slightly shook my head no and backed out of the office. Once I was in the parking lot, I was able to catch myself. I asked how much I owed him, and handed him cash. I felt relieved my keys were in my hand.

I don't know what he was saying- but the answer was no. no. I've never really been afraid of strangers. I know-- deep inside my body as well as from statistics- that men I know are much much more likely to assault me then a stranger. But everything inside of me screamed no, yelled at me to get out. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly...) I could barely shake my head no and back out of the room. It's like I couldn't physically do it. 

It took me... a while... to shake the feeling. To let it go, let it leave and for me to.. rebalance. That's also unusual-- that sorta shit rolls off my back (again with the strangers...) within short moments. But it felt hot and full in it's suffocation. That place where feelings sometimes come from-- some folks call it intuition-- was confident i needed to escape. 

-----------------
Today, several days later- I still have an intense feeling from that interaction. I still don't really understand it. I wonder what role racism played in my reaction, and in what ways i felt more afraid because he wasn't white and because enlglish wasn't his first language. because he was 'other'.

Unfortunately, I suspect racism did tint that-- and created something where those feeling felt... so... big. 




2 comments:

  1. and then about 2 weeks later (today)--- that tire went flat. totally busted.

    figures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. SO GLAD you got yourself out of there. Racism may have crept in as fear overtook your emotional body, but you still made the rational decision. Going to the store over the big chain was, in the first place, an anti-racist action. As long as you're not deterred from continuing to seek out the company of people from non-dominant ethnicities and deliberating treating with esteem, you are doing something big that is helping to end racism.

    Dude got things off on the wrong foot, and it's not your fault that they didn't communicate effectively after a certain point. It was in no way your responsibility to listen to the rest of what they were saying. Listening to intuition and responding appropriately is evidently a helpful practice, at least for protecting yourself.

    ReplyDelete