Sunday, October 7, 2012

Keep Trying

Since it is getting cooler here, I talked Grey into going to Yakima with me to do a little clothes shopping.  I love to shop at thrift stores and disount stores and I love a good bargain on things like heavy coats and furniture.  We recently bought a chest at Goodwill- it's solid wood, holds a bunch of stuff (we will be storing books in it) and you can also use it for seating.  I got it for $20. Score!  When we got it out to the car, it was a couple of inches too big.  A lady in a Cadillac drove by and offered to help.  Just like that. "Hey, that won't fit. Want to see if I can get it into my car? I'll drop it off for you!"  It was so nice of her to offer, but the chest wouldn't fit.  I cussed myself out pretty loudly in my head and tried smiling at Grey.  He had that patient look he gets when he has decided to go along with one of my hair-brained ideas that are only half thought out.  Like he knows that things aren't going to work but he's going along anyway because I am stubborn. As if!

Anyhoo, I had to leave the chest at Goodwill overnight and borrow a truck from a co-worker that I barely knew to go pick it up. This took far too many hours on a Sunday afternoon.  Grey and I agreed that to avoid such an occurrence in the future, I am somehow going to measure stuff and not "eyeball" it.  Hey, eyeballing stuff works for me almost 70% of the time!  But I do want to get along and not be inconsiderate what with the sheer number of scrapes that I get myself into.  I would like to point out that this *did* come out okay in the end.

So we went to Yakima and had a little lunch. It was late afternoon and by the time we got around (Saturdays are pretty lazy), our choices were limited as to where we could shop.  We decided to go to a couple of the larger retail stores to go poking around and hit up a used record store.

Things went alright at first.  Then I left my phone in a dressing room for five minutes.  When I came back, it was gone.  We searched the store for almost an hour.  The manager didn't seem to care. The Loss Prevention people took Grey's number and said that they would call if it turned up.  I borrowed Grey's phone and changed my passwords lickety-split. I also went on Facebook and asked all of my friends to send text messages to my phone, asking for its return.  They did; some implored for the sake of good Samaritanship.  Some talked of karma.  One person tried hostage negotiation and another offered sexual favors, though I'm not sure how he phrased the proposal. When I got home, I had the service suspended.  So I lost an iPhone that I paid a dollar for.  All of my stuff is backed up onto the iCloud so nothing really lost there.  I hope someone really needed it.  Because I can get another one.

It couldv'e been worse. It could've been my wallet.

Today I went shopping here in Ellensburg alone.  Everyone needs time for themselves.  I don't need much; an hour or so.  I went back to the Goodwill where I purchased the chest.  As I wondered the aisles, wondering how to create a costume so that I can become Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series, I accidentally overhead a conversation that two middle-aged White ladies were having.  They too were having Halloween thoughts and I eavesdropped a bit to see if I could get any ideas.

"Bob and I have matching outfits this year," said Lady #1 (Bob is an alias).
"Oh, did you buy costumes or are you making them?"
"We ordered them online.  We are going to be Indians this year!"
 My brain almost made my mouth interrupt them. After all, one of them had a pre-teenage daughter with her. I clamped my lips around my teeth, but it didn't sound good.
"Bob's is regular, just breechclout and a tunic and braids.  But mine has a bunch of fringe on the skirt and it's slit up the side.  Talk about sexy Indian princess!"  Both women laughed lightly at the idea.
My brain threw itself against the side of my head.  I may have a concussion.  It demanded that I march three steps over and announce that I was going to go in black face and ask if they thought it was sexy too.  Or that I ask which tribe she thought she would appropriate for her racist and stereotypical farce. Or that perhaps I settled for snorting loudly and walking away, leaving two women in my wake who had no idea why another White woman would be so jealous of their ideas.
I'm still mad at myself for not doing or saying more.  I don't think it would have made a difference though.

It diminishes my humanity when people act this way, as though other cultures, races or ethnicities all exist for the benefit of dressing all slutty.  When I say it diminishes my humanity, I mean that I feel the urge to hurt someone's feelings. Or throat.

The thing is, sometimes I make mistakes, like when I try to measure things in my head.  Sometimes others are dishonest and take what doesn't belong.  And others, in their ignorance - I hope- do and say racist things.  Next time, I will measure.  Next time, I will do a better job of protecting my property.  Next time, I will find a way to politely say that even though it's not intended, it's offensive to appropriate someone's clothing or culture so that you can play grown-up sexy dress up and that Orientalism is not cool, but in fact is racist and sexist and harmful. I will try to keep in mind the times when I have unknowingly fell flat on my face and offended someone and the lessons I learned from those mistakes.

I'll keep trying.

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