This just happened. (Note: racial descriptors are relevant to the story. It’s not like I just decided “Hey, you know what’s good storytelling and never offends? Calling the characters ‘black man’ and ‘white guy.'”)
Just now, I was in the liquor store buying 4 bottles of wine (one for each day Eric’s away at his bachelor party). As I was paying, a black man started yelling, in an EXTREMELY loud, panicked voice, “WOAH WOAH WOAH NO NO NOOO!”
The whole store froze. I turned to look at the man, and saw that he was starting at, and seemingly yelling at, a white customer at the register on the other side of the store. Not knowing what was happening, I obviously assumed we were all about to die. Then the black man darted out of the store and confronted a cop who was ticketing his car right there outside the door. Turns out, I was mistaken– he was not yelling at the white guy, he was yelling past the white guy, trying to get the cop’s attention because he didn’t want to get a ticket.
Once I realized this, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief, looked at the cashier, and said, “Jesus, I thought you guys were getting robbed. My heart just stopped.”
The cashier, a black woman, looked back at me, unamused, and said “Uh huh. Because every time a black man’s yelling, it’s because he’s robbing someone?”
I stared at her, taken aback. The race of the people involved had not even occurred to me until that moment (no, not because I’m that asshole who is going to claim “I don’t see color.” Of course I fucking see color. I have eyes. But in that moment, I was too panicked to process anything beyond the fact that I thought I was going to die right there in Yorkshire Wines and Spirits, holding 4 bottles of cheap sauvignon blanc).
“Actually, no,” I said, regaining my composure (but obviously still sweating profusely). “I thought that white man at the other register was robbing the store. I thought the black man was yelling at him, because he saw him with a gun or something. I thought the white guy was going to kill us, and that the black guy was trying to save us all.”
“Ah. Ok, my bad,” she said.
Then she shrugged her shoulders and mumbled, “Sorry. Trump’s America. I just assume now that everyone is racist.”
The saddest part?
I get it.
(He did get out of the ticket, though. So…happy, feel-good ending? )