Sigh. I have two or three blog drafts in my queue right now–about the election, about Standing Rock, about hair as a “text” for reading queerness…
And perhaps I will get back around to those. But for now, I want to talk about what happened at the post office yesterday.
I went to the post office to mail something to someone in the U.K. I picked out a priority flat rate box because…I don’t know why. Actually, I find the post office immensely confusing, and the people who work there always seem irritated that they have to explain what the hell the difference is between priority and first class (which in airline land, both mean you get on the plane before everybody else). Sigh. So, I pack the contents into a flat rate box. I stand in line. I get to the counter and ask for tape. I step aside to tape up my box. I return to the counter, with a different employee helping me. She looks at my box, sees that it’s going to the U.K. and says to me, “This is going to be expensive. You need to fill out a customs form but I’ll tell you how much it’s going to be. It’s going to be expensive,” as if to warn me or give me an out. She announced my total out loud. I stood there, looked at her expressionless, and said, “OK.” She handed me a customs form and shooed my aside. I said, “No problem. I’ll be right back.”
Thankfully, when I returned to the counter, a different employee was helping me, and my box was mailed without an issue. Nevertheless, I left the post office angry. Angry about this woman who felt the need to caution me that something was going to be “expensive” and announce my total (something I did not ask her to do) before I even conducted my transaction. Angry that this woman did not feel the need to warn the white man behind me that his transaction was about to equal $87.71–much more than my transaction total. Angry at the assumptions, the passive aggression, the (pre)judgment. Angry that this fucking town doesn’t know what to do with my Black presence.
Am I overreacting, being hypersensitive? Maybe. But these little experiences accumulate, and each one compounds the effects of the aggregate on my psyche. These are the low-grade, everyday, racist micro-moments that sometimes make this place so unpleasant and erode my willingness to engage people with a sense of trust and goodwill.
She probably voted for Trump.