A Black Mark On Their Account

, , , , | Friendly | March 19, 2018

(I am in a voice call with my friend, who lives in the USA, for a game. She asks if it’s okay for a third person to join us, and I don’t mind. We’re chatting for a bit.)

New Person: “You’re not American, are you?”

Me: “Nope, I’m in the UK.”

New Person: “What… are you?”

Me: *confused* “Er… Human? I think”

New Person: “As in… English?”

Me: “Oh! I’m half Scottish, half Irish. I live in England, though.”

New Person: “Oh, okay.”

(I don’t think much of it. I’m more surprised an American actually asked that as most — including my friend when I first met her — lump them all together. Some time passes, during which she makes some odd statements regarding black people. I go to get a sandwich and find out that, due to the snow, Mum has had to get white bread. I don’t really like white bread that much.)

Me: *coming back to call, being overly dramatic* “Woe is me!”

Friend: “What is it?”

Me: “Due to the godd*** snow, [Supermarket] couldn’t stock up on bread. Mum could only get—” *dramatic pause* “—WHITE BREAD! DUNDUNDUUUUUUUN!”

Friend: “Gasp! Oh, no! How terrible!”

New Person: “What do you normally get?”

Me: “Brown. I prefer whole grain, but Mum can’t have it because of her teeth.”

New Person: *audible gasp* “But only black people like brown bread!”

Me: *thinking she’s joking* “Who says I’m not black?”

(She drops the call immediately. There is a pause.)

Me: “I’m not sorry.”

Friend: *laughing* “You don’t need to be!”

(The new person blocked me, and my friend got messages from the person asking how she could play with a [racial slur]. She reported the person for racism, and as far as we know the girl got banned. For the record, I am not black; I said the comment because I presumed she was joining in with my silliness. It’s good riddance, in my opinion.)

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Patience Is A Virtue And She Is Not Virtuous

, , , , , | Friendly | March 16, 2018

It’s a cold, rainy day and I’ve run out of a few necessities so I make a trip to a nearby retailer. Luck is with me because I find a parking spot that is very close, right next to the handicapped parking.

I go in, grab what I need, and hustle back out. I put my bags in the back floorboard, then climb into the back seat so that I can take off my toddler’s rain jacket without getting the backseat wet.

As I’m trying to convince my son to put down his plush toy long enough for me to take off his jacket, a car pulls up directly behind my car and puts on their blinker. I wave at the woman, letting her know that I saw her, then return to the task at hand. After removing his jacket, I strap him in and give his plush back.

When I get out to get in the driver’s seat, I realize that she has pulled up far enough that she’s boxed me in. I gesture for her to back up. Then I get into the driver’s seat, start up the car, and look in the mirror to find the woman hasn’t backed up.

I turn around, and again I gesture for her to back up. She keeps glaring and honks again, then gestures for me to back out. I shake my head because there’s not enough room.

Realizing she’s not going to move, I take a cereal bar out of my purse and pass it to my toddler to keep him happy, and then I start playing a game on my phone.

I sit there for another ten minutes that are interspersed with the woman honking, and quite possibly swearing, before she speeds around to find another spot.

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Life Is Stranger Than Fiction-Writers

, , , , | Friendly | March 16, 2018

(I’m at a retreat, in the cafeteria, eating lunch at a table with a dozen people I’ve only met today. Eventually, our conversation comes around to me, and they ask me where I’m from and what I do for a living. I explain I’m in college, majoring in creative writing with a fiction concentration, and that I’m from [City #1] but living in [City #2] for school. A few people at the table want to know what living in either place is like, so a lot of their questions revolve around that. When it’s time to go to our afternoon lecture, our group breaks up. I’m on the way out the door when I pass someone who was at my table.)

Group Member: “Where are you from, exactly?”

Me: *surprised to be asked, especially after talking to him about it for at least five minutes* “[City #1], although I’m living in [City #2] for school.”

Group Member: “Wait… You weren’t just saying that? I thought you made that up.”

Me: “What? No. Why would you think that?”

Group Member: “Well, you’re a fiction writer.”

Me: “…”

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Everyone Is As Bright As A Button

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | March 14, 2018

(I’ve had the same type of purse since high school: a canvas shoulder bag completely covered in about forty or fifty picture buttons. I switch them out every six months or so. I like them because they’re bright and colorful and they start conversations. At least once a week someone on the train will comment on a button featuring a book or a movie they recognize, and I’ve even had complete strangers give me buttons to add to my collection. Two encounters really stand out, though. The first is on a bus. Sitting across the aisle from me is a mom with two toddlers who will not settle down, no matter what she pulls out to distract them. One of them finally manages to squirm away, hops off the seat, and then stops dead when she sees my bag covered in shiny, colorful buttons.)

Toddler: “Your bag’s pretty! What’s that one?”

Me: “Oh, that one is a picture of the pyramids, because someday I want to go to Egypt.”

Toddler: “Cool! What’s that one?”

Me: “That one’s a picture of a story I like, about a girl who gets turned into an owl.”

(After a minute, her brother wanders over to join her looking at my bag, and they spend the next twenty minutes calmly asking me about each and every button on my bag. Almost as soon as they finish with the last button, their mom announces they are getting off at the next stop, and the two kids run back to their mom. As they are getting off, she mouths a fervent, “Thank you!” at me. I have to smile. The second encounter takes place at a train station at nearly 1:00 am, when I am heading back from a friend’s. I’m a very short woman, and I am the only one on the platform, so I am a little nervous when a man comes onto the platform and heads right to me, not least because he has facial tattoos tying him to a particularly brutal and violent local gang. I am trying to discreetly reach for my pepper spray when…)

Man: “Dude, your purse is awesome. I saw the buttons from clear across the station. Where are they from?”

Me: “Oh! They’re, uh, they’re from all over. Some I found, some I bought, and some I made.”

Man: “This one, is this from Amsterdam?”

Me: “No, Venice. I’ve never been, but one of my friends brought it back for me.”

Man: “Makes sense. I figured it had to be either Venice or Amsterdam, with the canals. Either way, it’s pretty cool. I love the idea of a city built on the water.”

(We chat a few more minutes, and then he asks…)

Man: “By the way, you looked kind of nervous when I walked up. Was it the tattoos?”

Me: “I, uh… Yeah. Yeah, it was.”

Man: “I figured it was. Joining that gang was the worst mistake I ever made. I managed to quit and I’ve been working at [Local Factory] for the last eight months. First, I’m saving up to get the tats lasered off, then I’m saving up to visit Europe. I want to see Delft and Amsterdam and Venice… and if I like it, then I’m saving up to move there!”

Me: “In that case, here. Until you can get there yourself!”

(He grinned, and pinned the Venice button to his jacket. Unfortunately, my train pulled up, so we didn’t get to talk anymore, but it was a conversation that stuck with me. I’m usually pretty shy, and I’ve had a couple of friends comment that it’s odd that I carry a purse that attracts so much attention, but I like seeing people smile when they recognize something on one of my buttons.)

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Within Spitting Distance Of Coincidence

, , , , | Working | March 12, 2018

(My brother and I go to a theme park. The first ride my brother chooses to go on is this high-altitude ride that flip-flops back and forth. I chicken out and wait to the side for him. As the ride ends and people start filtering out, a guy walks past me with his girlfriend. He’s rubbing his face angrily as he speaks to his girlfriend.)

Guy: “Somebody’s glob of spit slapped me right in the face!”

(I think, “That sucks!” Then my brother comes out. He’s all smiles.)

Brother: “Oh, man, that was amazing! I was laughing so hard, a huge wad of spit came flying out of my mouth!”

(I burst out laughing. To this day, I am still amazed by the sheer coincidence of this interaction.)

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