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Call Me “Boy” One More Time

, , , | Right | CREDIT: mauvedeity | July 6, 2021

About fifteen years ago, I was a computer consultant, travelling for work. I’d gotten to the customer site early, so I meandered into the DIY store next door. I had no idea what I wanted, so I just wandered around. As I wandered, I heard a throat clear behind me. I thought nothing more of it, but then a cut-glass English accent broke the quiet.

Customer: “I say, boy! Boy! Where do you keep your light bulbs?”

Quick as a flash, my brain let me down, and I heard my mouth leak:

Me: “Generally, in light fittings all over my house.”

This did not go down at all well.

Customer: *Poshly* “I’ll have your job for this, boy!”

Just then, my brain came back online.

Me: “I, err, don’t work here!”

Customer: “Well, boy, you should make that clear! Look at how you’re dressed!”

I did. The store uniform was a red sweatshirt, blue trousers, and work boots. I, by contrast, was wearing a sharp black suit, white shirt, and an iridescent purple tie. So very similar! I can only assume that the confusion was caused by my being mixed-race and therefore looking like a houseboy to her.

I politely excused myself and decided that I’d had enough excitement for one day. As I was heading back to my car, I overheard a despairing voice say:

Manager: “No, ma’am, I can’t fire him because he really doesn’t work here.”

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