Bigotry Can Be Unlearned

, , , , | | Related | May 21, 2018

(I have always been very close to my grandfather, to the point we were nearly inseparable when I was little. My grandfather has very dated views on the world and I am told that I helped to change those views. All of these stories are told to me when I am older.)

Grandpa: *talking to his daughter* “I’m just saying that women shouldn’t be preachers! Y’a’ll can work normal jobs now, and that’s fine, but certain jobs should be for a man! A preacher is called Father for a reason!”

Me: “Grandpa, does that mean I can’t be a preacher when I’m older?”

Grandpa: “Well, I… That’s a bit different, Squirt. You’re a very smart young girl, and I think you’d be good at whatever you did. But other women shouldn’t do those things. It’s not natural.”

Me: “But if I’m smart enough, couldn’t there be other girls that are smart enough, too?”

Grandpa: “I mean, there could be… It’s just… Oh, forget it. You just don’t understand yet.”

(On another occasion.)

Grandpa: *to his friend* “I fought in Vietnam, so I know those Asians are good for nothing! I watched them kill their own people over there. One woman died right in front of me because she hid us away. They killed one of their own in cold blood, no proof at all she’d done it! They’re disgusting.”

Me: “But Grandpa, you just said one lady saved your life. She was Asian. Doesn’t that mean there are good Asians. too?”

Grandpa: “Squirt, don’t you go mixing me up now. I know what I saw, and those people were evil.”

Me: “Were the people who were killed evil?”

Grandpa: “No, they weren’t, but it’s just… Ugh, you’re too young to understand.”

(Yet another time…)

Grandpa: *at the kitchen table* “When I moved up from the south to my new schoo,l there was a [racial slur] in my class. I walked straight up to him and punched him straight in the nose! That taught him real quick who was boss!”

Me: “Did he hurt you, Grandpa?”

Grandpa: “He couldn’t land a hit on me! I got him before he even knew it was coming!”

Me: “But Grandpa, you told me never to hit someone unless they hurt me first!”

Grandpa: “That’s right, Squirt, but sometimes you just have to show who’s stronger.”

Me: “You told me the bigger person is the one who can solve things without hurting people.”

Grandpa: *thoughtful pause* “You’re right. You remember not to hit people now, you hear?”

(Years later when I heard these stories, I asked my Grandpa about them. He said he learned some valuable lessons from me about discrimination, violence, and how to keep his mouth shut in front of the kids. Every once in a while I still have to talk some sense into him, but he has come a long way and I still love him dearly.)

Eye’ll Tell You

, , , , | | Friendly | May 19, 2018

(During college I work at the associated daycare centre. Due to a genetic disorder, my right eye is puffy and closed. At the end of fall semester my freshman year, it is decided I need to have the eye removed. I have the surgery during the three-week term during January. I start working again spring semester. A child is sitting in my lap while I read to him. A second child comes and stands in front of me.)

Child: “Did your eyeball fall out?”

(I am shocked and have to frantically find an answer that will be accepted by him while not freaking him out.)

Me: “Um, no, the doctors decided that to make me better they needed to take it out.”

Child: “Okay.”

(I love the honesty of children, and how much they want to learn about the world around them. I do not like when parents shush them, because it teaches them it is not okay to politely ask questions of people.)

Kindness Is Sewn Into Them

, , , , , | Hopeless | May 15, 2018

When my daughter was seven weeks old, she was diagnosed with a medical condition that required wearing an ugly harness under her clothes to fix her dislocated hip. This meant that she had to get a load of specialised clothing to fit over the top, and a lot of the lovely things we’d been given as gifts when she was born were no longer useful.

I’m quite handy, so I managed to make a lot of clothes for her, but I was still disappointed by the loss of some lovely clothes, in particular one trousers-and-top outfit with little ducks on it. I wondered if I could modify the little trousers, and my mum suggested writing to the company, a small independent one, to see if they could send me some scraps of fabric to fill in the gaps. I sent them an email, explaining the situation, and they got back to me right away asking how much I needed.

Thinking I was likely to only get tiny offcuts, I asked for just a foot square. I offered money, but they refused to take any. A few days later, I got a full metre square in the post — enough to make a whole new pair of modified trousers — and some little t-shirts, too. I also didn’t have to take apart the existing trousers, so when she came out of the harness a few weeks later, she could go back to wearing them. That company is now one of my favourite places to buy baby clothes.

Finding out that your tiny baby is unwell is such a frightening experience, but it’s amazing how willing people are to help you out.

Parent Made Apparent

, , , , , , | Right | May 13, 2018

(I’m cleaning up some tables for the children’s clothing. Everything is going fine until a young boy shows up and starts throwing things on the ground.)

Me: “Excuse me. Can you stop doing that?”

Boy: *snottily* “Doing what? Throwing things?” *throws clothing at me*

(After I spend a few minutes asking the boy to stop, he runs off. I call in to my manager to let him know that he may have to keep an eye on the boy. Fifteen minutes later, the boy and his mother show up.)

Mother: *to boy* “Is this her?”

Boy: *nods and smirks*

Mother: *to me* “I am so sorry for my son’s behavior! I honestly lost track of him, and I’m so thankful you called in to the manager!”

Boy: *shocked* “What?! This lady was saying mean words to me!”

Mother: *angrily* “NO, she wasn’t! I come here a lot, and this lady has treated me with nothing but respect! There is no way she treated you like you say she is!”

Boy: *lets out a string of cuss words*

Mother: *to me* “Thank you so much, again! I’m sorry for him.”

(They proceed to walk out of the store, the mother scolding the child. My manager walks up to see me with tears in my eyes.)

Manager: “Are you okay?”

Me: “Yeah… It’s just so nice to actually have a parent taking responsibility for once!”

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The Train Tracks Are Long And Bend Towards Justice

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 19, 2018

(The ticket machine at Winchfield train station is super crappy, and constantly has issues accepting cash payment. There are also no buildings anywhere near the train station. I am heading into Basingstoke for a Christmas work do at about nine pm. It is wet and icy, so it’s horrible. There’s a young girl, probably about 11 or 12, at the ticket machine. She has her cash in hand, so I know it won’t be a long wait, and I start fishing for my card.)

Girl: “Erm… Y-you can go ahead of me.”

(I look up, and she’s stepped to the side and pulled out her phone.)

Me: “Oh, thanks.”

(I go to the machine and the girl walks a fair bit away. The ticket machine isn’t accepting cash, and it takes a moment for me to click that the girl can’t get her ticket. She hasn’t cleared all her information from the machine, and I see her station is not one where she can get off without a ticket, so I buy hers and mine with my card. I head over to her after.)

Girl: *on the phone* “Please, Mum. It’s really cold and the ticket office is closed. Can you really not be here sooner? There’s nowhere I can wait! Mum, please?” *she starts crying*

Me: *tapping the girl’s shoulder* “Your ticket.”

(She turns round, and I hand the ticket over.)

Girl: *hesitantly taking it* “What?”

Me: “I bought your ticket. Get home safe, okay?”

(I head into the station platforms and start crossing the bridge.)

Girl: “Hey! The money for the ticket!”

(I look round. She’s trying to hand me a tenner, and I have no change on me.)

Me: “It was a few quid; it’s fine.”

Girl: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Positive. Good deed for the day and all that jazz.”

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