I went to the mechanic today to have my car serviced. After I had been there a little while, and was settled into my copy of "I'll Take My Stand", a large woman, heavily perfumed and bedecked in gold baubles, came barreling through the door. It was immediately apparent that the first priority of her visit to the mechanic was to make everyone in earshot aware that she drove a BMW. Her second priority was to let everyone know what a big deal it was that her tire pressure light was on. The deal. It was huge. After she enthusiastically delivered her keys to the clerk, she performed a 3-point maneuver to wedge herself into her chair and began to direct her high-decibel stream-of-conciousness at me, being the only other person in the room. Her pronouncements were as follows:
- She just can't pick up the phone anymore because it's always somebody trying to get her money.
- This world is crazy, and they are just killing us black folk in the street.
- Not all black people are poor. Many of us got money. My family all have nice houses. We live well. I drive a BMW (in case I didn't catch that earlier.)
- I am a professor, with three masters degrees, and working' on a PhD. (minority studies?)
While she was establishing her credentials, I simply looked at her politely and maybe said "yeah" once or twice. Then she started on Trump, apropos of nothing.
"He ain't for us. He is killing black people."
I attempted to ask for some elaboration on that point, but she continued on like a runaway train.
"My daddy was murdered. Jim Crow."
I had no idea what that was supposed to mean, so I dug in and asked her to tell me the story. After several vague iterations, she eventually came to the story that he was run over by a bus while walking in the road. She did not make any actual connection to either murder or Jim Crow. It was established that his employer gave the family some grief over the pension because, get this, her parents were not married to each other. I know. Shocking that that could cause issues in probate court.
She went on and on about the many laments of her family specifically, and black people generally. She brutally cursed Clarence Thomas, but gave only a muttering, incoherent explanation when asked why. Almost everything she had to say was a complaint. Most of her complaints were about her family or race not getting government money that she thought they were due.
At several points I tried to turn the monologue into a conversation, but I couldn't ever get more than one or two words in. She continued like this, often returning to her credentials as wealthy and educated, and then quickly back to more complaints or wild and unsupported claims about law or society. (Did you know that businesses are legally required to hire equal numbers of black and whites? She's a professor, so it must be true.) She went on and on and on and on. This wealthy, BMW-driving professor moaned for half an hour about how awful it is to be a black person in America. This gilded dictionary of complaints was so oblivious to how good this country has been to her. I wonder if she'd ever considered that there is no better place to be of African extraction in the world than the USA.
Eventually the mechanic returned her keys. Her tires were simply low because she didn't maintain their pressure. The idea that they could just be "low" seemed to confuse her. There's a metaphor in there somewhere. She demands that society just keep on producing for her and her people, but she didn't seem to understand at all that an input of work and wealth is required to keep this bus rolling.
Automobile maintenance wasn't the only thing that confused her. She seemed, by the end of this encounter, to be totally lost in a cloud of racial paranoia, and psychically crushed under the weight of the colossal chip on her shoulder. She was so completely obsessed with her own sense of victimhood that communication between us was literally impossible. She wouldn't, and couldn't shut her mouth for even a few seconds to attempt to hear anything I was trying to ask or say. I doubt she wanted to. It was like trying to talk to a space alien. I was speaking into a yammering abyss, without even an echo of my own words to bear witness.
She shook my hand, and told me how glad she was to have talked to such a nice young man, and that we both learned something from each other. I have no idea what she learned from me, as I never actually completed a sentence.
I can tell you what I learned from her though: I learned that their is a very wide gulf between us, and that only an act of God can bridge it. The only hope we could ever have for a friendship, or even a conversation, is to be found in faith in Christ. Christ, who takes away our burdens and bitterness. And I pray she finds Him.