Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(We Will Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming After This Brief, Racist Message)

On my lunch break today I went to the hardware store to buy some closet pole for another one of Dan & Brooke’s Home Improvement Adventures™. There was a nice Mexican guy who said he would cut the closet pole for me. I told him how long I needed it and he went downstairs. He came back upstairs and handed me two pieces of wood. He said, “You pay for whole thing.” I briefly considered leaving the second length of pole with him, because what the hell am I going to do with it? A man only needs so much closet pole. But somehow I came to the conclusion that it was better to inconvenience myself by carrying a five foot piece of wood home with me than to pay for something only to give it back to the very man who was ripping me off in the first place.

Anyway, I went to the register to pay and on line in front of me was a woman pushing a baby stroller. The guy behind the counter (who happened to be black) was holding up a bundle of rope. “This is the thinnest rope we have,” he told the woman.

“Oh,” she replied, seeming concerned. “I guess I’ll have to take that.” Then: “You could tie that into a noose, right?”


I quickly looked over my shoulder to see if anyone else had heard it. Could she actually have asked him that? But yes, she must have – because he replies, tentatively, at best, “Sure . . . I think you could.” She then takes the rope from him and BEGINS MAKING A NOOSE.

I’m confused. Is this really happening? Am I in some bad Civil War play? Finally, she hands him the rope back and says, “I’ll take two feet.” He seems happy that the transaction will soon be over, but not before she then asks, “You think that will look authentic, right?” I don’t think I will ever hear the word “authentic” again without remembering the time a white woman asked a black salesman if the rope he was selling her would make for an authentic looking noose.

She finally paid and left. As I went up to the register, I debated whether or not to convey my astonishment to the salesman. I had to decide quick, and in the moment of my indecision on whether to vocalize my feelings or remain silent, a muted harrumph escaped my mouth. Fully dedicated to the interaction now, I followed it up with a look that said, “Can you believe that woman? A noose of all things!” However, I fear the salesman mistook my gesture of harmonious brotherhood as a sigh of indignation. Apparently my “Can you believe that racist woman?” eyes are very similar to my “Can you hurry up, I’m in a rush” eyes. (Who knew?)

The lesson? I don’t think there is one here. Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Sometimes you overpay for closet pole, and that’s just how it is.”


Blogger Amaya said...

Was she completely oblivious?

December 12, 2007 at 5:56:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who is more concerned about what that women planned to do with a noose, than whether it was PC to ask an African American salesperson about it?

Mind you, I am Canadian, and the shameful elements of our history are a little different.

December 12, 2007 at 10:16:00 PM EST  
Blogger ~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

What's the big deal? Sorry I'm not seeing it and they obviously didn't either. They are living in a new society, one that is not governed by history of things past, by colour. Yes I understand the significance and that we can't forget but at some point we all have to move on, even if that means having to forget. We are never going to advance together, if we are constantly going to be worried about stepping on someone's toes.

The fact that the black salesman did not get the gist of what you were trying to translate means that he as a black person moved on.

And I'm saying this as a person of colour. We want to move on just as much as anyone else. This was more a situation where a customer is asking a saleperson a question, regardless of what her intentions with it are.

Honestly, would it not have created a problem if he had gotten your message? I am glad he didn't.

December 13, 2007 at 12:26:00 AM EST  
Blogger Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Wow. "Tie the noose, boy!!!"

I think she would have been okay if she had asked and not assumed he knew his way around a noose, because that did kind of look fishy.

Good post, bro.

December 13, 2007 at 1:22:00 AM EST  
Blogger DevilsHeaven said...

Did this happen recently? Cause I'd be less concerned if it happen at say Halloween.
I can't imagine anyone, of any color in this day and age would have a working knowledge of how to tie a noose.
Here in the North anyway.........

December 13, 2007 at 9:36:00 AM EST  
Anonymous You can call me, 'Sir' said...

At least she wasn't buying a whip and asking, "Do you think I could make someone do my bidding with this?"

December 13, 2007 at 9:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger Mickey said...

Whatever. I'm sure there are lots of constructive reasons to tie a noose. I just can't think of any, although suicide can certainly be construed as constructive in particular circumstances. Maybe she was going to do us all a favor. Damn I'm insensitive.
Actually, I'm more concerned with what must be regional preferences regarding the phrase "on line" versus "in line." Who are you "on line" people and where do you come from?

December 13, 2007 at 11:35:00 AM EST  
Blogger Chris said...

Mickey's right. She was going to hang herself. It was a cry for help. You should have done something. Too late now, I guess.

December 13, 2007 at 12:01:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Juan. said...

Dude, Im 13 and I dont really care what adults say 'bout me, I would've just asked the lady; "So, What are you going to do with the noose?" When she looks at you, just ask; "SchoolPlay?" I mean why start meditating on what you're gonna say to a person you dont even know, which your probably never going to bump in again, because she's probably gonna be dead 10 minutes later, nice post though, pce. (Im Mexican BTW)

December 13, 2007 at 1:21:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's obvious to me that she wasn't going to hang herself, rather the baby. Hence the need for the hardware store's "thinnest rope". Apparently it don't take much rope to hang a baby. I think her questions were a cry for help. She was practically begging someone to ask why she needed a baby-sized noose.

December 13, 2007 at 2:45:00 PM EST  
Blogger wutsua said...

Nice blog. I will keep reading. Please take the time to visit my blog about Levitz Furniture

December 13, 2007 at 3:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger rvega said...

When I was casually scrolling down I noticed if only the moose's muzzle and second chin, or what might be described as rival of a turkey's "wattle", are visible, they look like a scrotum. A very massive, very hairy scrotum. With a mouth. Wait, what's this post about?

December 13, 2007 at 5:08:00 PM EST  
Anonymous said...

The only thing even remotely 'racist' about this is being taken aback by it. Kinda like, the "it takes one to know one" theory.

Notice that neither the customer or the sales clerk batted an eye.

I'm just looking forward to a time when people can return to saying whatever they want without worrying about some crying ninny pointing fingers.

I'm so over it.

P.S. Can we start throwing around the three letter 'f' word again, or is it still not funny?

December 13, 2007 at 5:40:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I'm with Mickey re the "on line" business. Who says that? Get outta my country!

December 13, 2007 at 5:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger valiantqueen said...

I too thought, "Uh, shouldn't you be asking what she plans to do with it?" Never made the racist connection either, but again, I think that's the Canadian thing...Her, the baby, I'm thinking both!


December 13, 2007 at 6:50:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hardware stores are a huge racquet. I dropped off a peg board to frame so it could be a super cool pot holder for my closet-turned kitchen and was told that it was misplaced. Only I saw it in the window two weeks later with a price tag $10 less than what they were charging me.

December 13, 2007 at 8:50:00 PM EST  
Blogger faithstwin said...

I got it right away. I even caught the connection to the Abe Lincoln 'quote'. I don't know what is wrong with the rest of ya...

I have to say the first thing that came to my mind is she is creating a prop for a play. I would have found her asking about making a noose alarming as well, but don't know that I would have said anything to the clerk.

Oh and 13-year-old boy? That's the problem with the lot of kids these need to start caring because respect gains respect. I swear, if my kids ever act the way you are claiming to, they will be tied off from the rest of the world until they can figure it out. I appreciate your confidence, yet you should understand 'confidence' and 'stupid disregard' are two different actions calling for two very different reactions. One day you will know what I mean. Until then: assert your independence without being a punk, mmmk?

December 14, 2007 at 12:01:00 AM EST  
Blogger sid said...

LOL! That's what you were thinking? I'm coloured (in South Africa this means that I'm a mix of Asian, Bushman & European i.e. pavement special) so if a white woman would have said this to me this would not have been my first assumption. Instead I would have thought that maybe just maybe she was thinking of committing suicide.

December 14, 2007 at 5:07:00 AM EST  
Blogger Mickey said...

Who are these incredibly serious people reading this blog? Lighten up folks- it's a white woman buying a noose from a black man in a hardware store. Not very interesting except that it was told in a narrative style that was entertaining, humorous and very slightly thought-provoking. Damn, now I'm taking things seriously. Shit. Laugh and move on.

December 14, 2007 at 10:30:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to come stand up in dans defense whether he needs it or not.
Do you people only use the internet to keep up with blogs? Do you avoid at all cost? People have been displaying nooses and getting in some very serious racial battles all fall.
I hear noose I think of someone being a jackass.

December 14, 2007 at 3:25:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nicole said...

ink I love Mickey. I could be your Minnie.

The "on line" as opposed to "in line" preference is odd. You understand that you are not actually "on" a line, as it were. You are, however, "in" a line. Literally. No one is looking down to make sure they're standing "on" the line. But people do line up one after the other so as to form a line of which you can stand "in."

And now that I've reached my quota of quotation marks for the week, I'll depart.

December 14, 2007 at 5:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nicole said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 14, 2007 at 5:38:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nicole said...

Just so you know...


"ink I love Mickey. I could be your Minnie."

was supposed to read as follows:

"I think I love Mickey. I could be your Minnie."

Ahh, clarity. Thank you and have a good evening.

December 14, 2007 at 5:40:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noose <> Moose, though the "N" and "M" are right next to each other on my keyboard. As are the "I" and "O" -- on line <> in line. Typos abound.

December 15, 2007 at 12:43:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, what happened to the mattress posts??? :(

December 16, 2007 at 12:02:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to the posts about buying a mattress in 38 easy steps?!

December 16, 2007 at 12:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Mickey said...

Nicole- Thanks for the love. Now throw some of those comments my way. (Yeah, I'm fishing.)

Dan- Good job, man. 27 comments from a trip to a hardware store. You've got the knack.

December 17, 2007 at 4:07:00 PM EST  

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