So my self-appointed #oldwhiteguytryingtobepolite had a sort-of run-in the other day with #metoo and #blacklivesmatter and I ended up walking out of a store with my tail between my legs and a confused look on my face. And a cashier who was still shaking his head as I left.
Bear with me for a couple of minutes while I tell you the backstory.
My No 1 year-round retirement hobby is sending out and (hopefully) collecting autographs of athletes on trading cards, preferably baseball players or former players. I have found a cheap and convenient way of procuring unsigned cards is through 30-card “Jumbo Packs,” a staple of the Dollar Tree stores that are located all over the place. Over the course of the past several months, partly because of me, the Dollar Tree stores in my neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods have run out of these items. When I’ve asked for more, I get the same story: Store employees don’t fill out stock orders; those come through corporate based on sales rung up on the cash registers.
OK, I can handle that. But when ALL the stores that carry the Jumbo Packs run out and don’t get more, what do I do? I search out other stores. I found some on the other side of town the other day, but only because I happened to be there. And, because a lot of these former players are hard to get through the mail, I sometimes end up with only eight or ten cards out of 30 going into the mailbox. Which means I have to replenish every couple of weeks.
Well, since I had to pick up some books that my wife bought from a lady through a facebook “garage sale” in a part of town that was sort-of on my way home from work, I decided to stake out one more Dollar Tree I had not yet visited. That just happened to be on South Division Avenue in Grand Rapids, just north of Hall Street. For those familiar with GR, that neighborhood is a bit inside the outside edge of what many would call the “inner city.” I’ll leave it up to you to interpret that whichever way your mind chooses.
As I exit my car across the parking lot from the entrance to this Dollar Tree — all the spaces next to the building are handicap parking spaces — I noticed that this 40-ish/50-ish black woman was just approaching the door. I have no clue as to her economic status or her living conditions, but she was dressed in layers because it was cold outside. And she was clean and polite, holding the door for me. So I thanked her, and thanked her again when she held open the inner door for me.
I found some Jumbo Packs — five, in fact, all they had — so I bought them. And I got to the checkout before my fellow shopper, who had three or four bags of snacks and was looking at some of the smaller items while the cashier was ringing up my order. It was early Friday afternoon and I was finished working and I was in a good mood because I got paid and I found baseball cards I was seeking, so I discreetly told the cashier, another white guy, probably mid- to late-20s, that I would pay for her stuff. That’s the kind of guy I am. Ask anyone.
As the cashier — Todd was his name, I think — was separately bagging her things, she blurted out, “Uh-uh, those are mine.” I told her because I was in a good mood and she held the door open for me, I was repaying the favor by paying for her things. She would have absolutely none of that.
“Uh-uh,” she repeated, looking directly at Todd. “I can pay for my own stuff. I don’t want to have to do any favors for anybody. Next thing you know, he’s gonna ask me out for a date. Nope, I’m paying for my own stuff.”
I tried to explain my motives, which had nothing to do with dating her. I explained that “I’m 67 years old, I’ve been married over 44 years and I’ll probably never come to this store again anyway.”
So Todd, bless his heart, unbagged her stuff, most of which had already been rung up, clearer her amounts from the register, then finished my order. He shrugged his shoulders and got red-faced and thanked me. The guy behind her, a black guy, simply looked at her and said, “Geez, lady.” And, as I walked away, she simply said: “Have a nice day.” No “thank you” or anything.
I pride myself on doing small favors for people. That’s the way I was raised. But if y’all in the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements are going to take offense at the kind actions of #oldwhiteguytryingtobepolite, I guess the money will go into my savings account instead.