Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
You know how you see a person and based on appearance and a few words, make up a story about that person in your mind? Maybe you don’t. I do.
I was at Cub, just walking up to the checkout (with actual cashier because I had more than 20 items). A woman came quickly from an aisle and almost beat me but my cart was ahead of her so she stopped short, holding her basket.
I said “You only have a few items, why don’t you go ahead” and she said “Thank you” and did. No problem, I’ve got time and she’s obviously in a hurry. I noticed she’s not wearing a wedding ring but lots of women don’t. 40-ish, very tanned, curly haired, could have been mixed race or could have recently returned from vacation or maybe she hits the tanning booth, none of my business.
So she checks out and starts bagging, I’m moving my cart to the end so I can bag when my stuff is done scanning, she’s talking to the casher. “Can I get the belt turned on?” I notice her stuff is only half-way down the conveyor to her. The clerk tells her to push the button but she says “I want it to move constantly.” It’s one of those padded black squares that you can push with your hip to make it move constantly. She wearing Spandex, not a silk dress. I’m thinking to myself: lean on it, lady, it’s not that hard.
So right away, I have this story in my mind. Pushy and not too bright. Teacher. Divorced. Spring break tan. Big hurry because her life matters. If I were to tell her “Hey, lady, we’ve all got somewhere to be, lighten up,” it’d be a giant insult and possibly a hate crime. I know it’s a complete fiction, a story that I made up in my head about someone I don’t know at all, but I’d be willing to bet I’m right about a lot of it.
Which goes to show why stereotypes are a good thing. They’re efficient. They allow us to skip all the tedious fact-gathering and elimination of possibilities so we can go straight to avoidance. It’s why Jesse Jackson is relieved to hear footsteps following him and find it’s an older White guy instead of a young Black guy.
I suppose it would be considerate of me to help other people write their own head-stories so they can more quickly begin avoidance and leave me alone. Where can I get a MAGA cap?
This is more common than people thi…
…OK – it’s more common than people think, as I personally imagine them thinking.