As is the case regarding most diversions into Blogland, an upsetting situation is prompting an op-ed post. Distress regarding a COMPLETELY unfounded “save your ass” claim of racism has created your not-so-humble reviewer great angst. The fact that many readers likely already are calling “nonsense” regarding my assertion of innocence proved my point.
This post is intended to be the first in a series on this topic. The primary of several main themes as to this ticking A bomb is to remind readers that there is your side, my side, and the truth.
Another theme, which is an element of a recent post on the.documentary “billion dollar Bully” about the alleged horrific sales techniques of Yelp, is that ubiquitous access to social media puts s smoking gun in the hands of everyone, Fear of intense (and possibly violent) public backlash is behind choosing words in this post VERY carefully. Fear of legal action by the retailer at issue is behind not naming any names.
Our story begins with my being frustrated about a matter related to the store. A black guy, with whom I had very friendly prior interaction, happened to be the manager on duty. I left the store much less annoyed and called the white general manager, with whom I also had a good relationship, on his cell phone at his invitation during his conversation with the black manager while I was in the store.
My conversation with the general manage occurred in the store parking lot; it was a hot day, and the general manager told me to bring my phone in the store so that he could tell the assistant manager on duty to give me a soda of my choice, The general manager ended up conveying that to another employee.
I had the soda in hand and was ready to happily walk out of the store when the assistant manager told me that he knew that the general manager had offered me the soda but that that was against store policy and that I would have to pay for this $2 soda, which I easily could have afforded. I tossed that sealed 20-ounce plastic bottle in a stack of shopping baskets a few inches from me and stormed out without saying a word.
I called the general manager the next day about cashing in on the store promotion at the heart of all this. I was shocked to hear that the assistant manager had reported that I was racist and that I committed the violent act of throwing the soda at him. I also was told that the employees backed up that story. Objectively, this was a ploy by the assistant manager to avoid discipline both for overriding his boss and for not making a reasonable $2 concession to a customer.
The general manager added that he was not present for the incident but was banning me based on the report; this is despite his having spoken to me at the time and being the one to send me back in the store.
Aside from the sting of any false accusation, I remain very upset about being labeled in a very toxic manner. I hardly am a civil-rights activist but race has NEVER been an issue for me.
Contrasting experiences further set the foundation for this series of posts. I grew up in a nice neighborhood of a small northern New England city and was a kid for whom prep school was “kid jail.”
A black inner-city kid, who did go on to be an NBA star, in my dorm used to greet me in the hall with what I heard as “Holmes.” I was a smart (but not woke) kid and thought that he was calling me Sherlock.
After a few months of these exchanges, I asked the guy about this. He heartily laughed and said that he had been calling me “homes.” He further explained the meaning of the term. I started calling him homes after that.
I fully expected that this guy told all his buddies back home about the stupid little white preppie in his dorm.
Conversely, a white classmate was best friends with another inner-city black guy, who now coaches basketball on the college level. The white guy regularly would put a white pillow case on his head and pretend to threaten the black guy, who outwardly laughed at this, Even at 15, I knew that this was very wrong despite the context. I did not intervene but never laughed and always walked away when these antics began.
Fast-forwarding 15 years, I was working in a fully integrated office in which all of us got along exceptionally well, The two black women who were the managers were the best bosses I ever had.
One of the black guys CONSTANTLY joked about being black. This included a broad comedy routine on the many occasions on which he brought fried chicken.
Even the two managers took public transportation to and from work. The black guy ALWAYS took cabs. Purely out of curiosity, I asked him about that one day.
The guy told me all of the things that he disliked about the bus. Reasoning that he and I were friends who knew each other fairly well and that he CONSTANTLY joked about being black, I JOKINGLY responded that it also is unpleasant to have to ride in the back of the bus.
The guy immediately got very upset. I admittedly feared for my job but equally did (and still do) felt extremely sad that I hurt my friend. Fortunately, the guy never reported the incident.
The workplace incident also related to broader context. Rosa Parks is famous for stating that she merely was tired and was not trying to make a statement when she sat in the front of the bus, For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer does not care where anyone sits on a bus or a diner.
Having stated all this, there are racists people among every group, Their biased acts warrant a proportional response. At the same time, claims of that mistreatment is a FIGURATIVE loaded gun that can badly damage the psyche and the standing of the accused, That trigger should not be pulled without cause.