Will Kaufman wrote that Uncle Tom’s Cabin “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War.” In the limited time I gave myself to finish this blog, I spent half of that on Netflix. While scrolling through all the garbage that gets pumped out during spoopy season, I found Sommersby. It’s a movie about a man returning home from a prison camp set up by the Union Army. Basically, long story short, the man is a doppelganger and there’s a lot of tragedy. It’s no surprise that most moments based on racism aren’t very light and happy, but other than through the television I never had first hand experience of it.
Disgusting people run rampant in the world, and I mostly try to avoid them. However, when you work in customer service they tend to look for you. They force conversations into your life and drain your existence away. It’s also a stereotype that the world of construction is mostly filled with very questionable people, so, when customer service meets the number one stop for building materials, it’s an absolutely tragic scene for an anti-social person like me.
The only thing that made life bearable was the two coworkers I had; Ricky Rivers and Chris. Both very much older than me but made me feel welcomed. Ricky even told every other employee that I was somehow his son, and every single time people would call him crazy, but he would just laugh out loud. Chris would always stroll in a few minutes late while meticulously putting on his gloves. I swear that only two hours of our ten-hour work days were spent working. Unfortunately, this was a lumber yard in the South and they were two African-Americans who didn’t mind hanging out around a white kid.
I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to watch the people that give you the funniest moments of your life get ignored. Each morning we would sit there and wait for customers to pour into the warehouse. Each morning there was some customer who would pass by Rick and Chris with out a single gesture or “good morning.” Each morning they would pick up their head and say hello to me. It was always something we talked about between the three of us, but it was their lifelong experience. I loved when customers came to me for advice and then watched as I walked to the two guys they ignored for advice about the advice.
No customer actually mentioned anything racial towards me (except the one Jamaican dude that picked on me as a joke for being the white guy in the warehouse) until one day this guy came straight towards me to ask me a question. He asked how I got along with everyone. I’m glad he cared? Well, when I said it was good, he asked, “even with the blacks?” Honestly, I kind of laughed in a startled, dumbfounded way.
I looked at my coworkers in that kind of “This dude…” way. You know what I mean. I looked him straight in his tiny, little, pathetic eyes and said straight-faced, “It’s actually the white people around here I don’t get along with.” His tiny, little, pathetic eyes widened into just little, pathetic eyes as he shakily asked if that was true. Of course, it wasn’t, so I said “no…” I just walked away and went straight back to my friends to tell them. I don’t know how, but they always could make anything into a laughing matter. Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. Also, watch Sommersby because it’s decent. If you have Netflix that is. If you don’t then I’m sure you have a friend that does. If you don’t have a friend, then I’d be willing to be your friend (other humans are available).