Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Those people

You must know nothing good is coming when someone uses the phrase "those people" towards the start of their tirade. When you use the word retard, someone politely and earnestly asks you to stop. When you refer to black people as "those people" the conversation that follows will rarely be polite.

Even though I'm not black, when two women were standing in the reception area at work and "those people" floated past me, a slow boil of rage started. They were talking about living in a specific building and how some black people lives there and it was okay, but the neighborhood was changing and "those people" brought problems. It devolved into people who are new money, which turned into poor people. "Those people just don't know how to comport themselves." I looked down at the desk so I wouldn't glare at them as they went on and on. Finally I picked up my phone and asked Arnie if he had a minute.

Someone came out to cover the phones while I went to his office. I started telling Arnie what the women were saying, and he interrupted me. "Hold on a second," and closed his door. I hadn't realized how loud I'd been. Starting again, I told him what they were saying and how angry it was making me.

Arnie sat and watched me. He didn't interrupt. When I saw him glance at the time I tried to wrap it up. He took a deep breath. "Do it," he told me. So I took a deep breath too. Then Arnie said, "You know, teenage girls can be real bitches." That slow boil of rage got faster. "If they don't change, they just turn into really bitchy women," Arnie finished.

He told me they were absolutely wrong, I was absolutely right to be upset. But then Arnie was like an ideal solution in this situation is to go tell them he doesn't want their business. In this economy though, nobody turns down business. My heart kind of sank. Arnie stood up, saying we don't always get to choose our clients. For a couple of seconds, I didn't realize Arnie was dismissing me, and I was supposed to stand up and walk out.

Finally I did, and it was embarrassing. So I kind of mumbled thank you and went back to my desk. One of the women had left, so the other one was just playing with her iPhone quietly. When her head was totally down reading her screen, I glared at her. Because I'm mature like that.


OTRgirl said...

He sounds like a wise man. It's actually really cool that you have a boss that will listen to you and respect you like that.

You're so right about "Those People" (and "You people"): anything starting there is going to go downhill fast.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Arnie would let you put a sign up in the waiting area that says, "Acoustics favorable to your conversation being overheard by others. Voice prejudices at your own risk."

Sometimes it amazes me what people will say out loud!

Yankee, Transferred said...

I like Arnie. And I'm proud of you for getting angry. There are just some situations that call for it.

Mizasiwa said...

living in SA this happens ALLTHETIME Im lucky to work in an office were we all have the same ethic and outlook but sometimes our clients arent like that.

Anonymous said...

OK, WHERE ARE YOU? dont worry your readers sam! seriously I hope all is well with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Sam!!!!!! Where are you?????????? It's been too long!

Abby said...

See, you spoil us with the almost-daily posting. If you're gone for a week and a half, we get worried. Everything OK?

SmileyGirl said...

Hey Sam. Just wanted to let you know that I'm an avid reader of your blog and have been thinking about you constantly during this "countdown" to the 10 year anniversary. I can't begin to know how all the shows and talks are making you feel but know that many of us are thinking about you and your sisters and giving you as many cyber{hugs} as possible. I'm sure this time is tough and I'm sure your Mom and brother are watching over you and seeing how fabulous you and Alex and Dani or doing (despite the fact that you really don't want to but have no choice). You are an inspiration to watch and root for. Please don't feel like you have to talk about it but know that we all are right here waiting and listening when you are ready. You are a wonderful person and I know your family is proud and there with you in spirit always.

Love to you all,
Julene aka SmileyGirl

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon's..... Spoiled by almost daily posts. I'm worried about you. Hope things are okay.
Sending love!

Bec said...

Worries too, hope you ok.

Bec xx