I'll be honest...it's been, probably 15 years since I've had my teeth cleaned. I mean, I brush, but not the kind where they use a pick to scrape your teeth and gums until you bleed so much that you're swallowing gulps of your own blood and, as a result, you go home and puke because of the blood in your belly. Haven't had that kinda cleaning in a while. Of course, my hygienist says that if I got my teeth cleaned more often, I probably wouldn't have that happen. Guess, then, it truly is the cleaning that only happens once every 15 years.
I walk in for my appointment, sign in, grab a newspaper and have a seat. I was reading the sports section. Something about Texas Tech. I hear two women talking just across from me. Probably about ten feet away. On the wall, they sit with about five or so chairs between them. One woman is clearly older than 70. A little feeble. Hunched over in her chair. She had one of those sweet grandma voices. My grandmothers are much older and, for the record, carry themselves much better--good genes. The other is a woman that's probably about mid-40s. In their exchange as I was walking in, the younger of the two women has told the other that she busses kids for a living. It leads into one of those weird elderly monologues which constantly just boarders on bitchery. Just complaining.
"This country has just gone downhill," comments the older woman. "It's just not the way it used to be. Life was so simple." She continues to talk about computers like they're an epidemic, how rowdy kids are these days and how you can't trust anyone. I check out temporarily and go back to reading. Just an old woman complaining about something. "That older generation is dying off. People like me."
Just moments later, I perk my ears up to hear here remarking something relating to "they're just so uncontrollable" and "always seem to be up to no good." I just hold the paper in front of my face and direct my ears to their conversation. She lowers her voice as if she senses me listening in. "I imagine they're just a wild on the bus."
The busdriver replies, "Well, it doesn't matter what color they are, all kids are pretty wild these days."
The older woman stands up and moves to the seat next to the busdriver. "I tell you, though, you know why they're so wild, it's because they came from Africa."
Serious. I'm not kidding.
She continues, "Of course, I remember back when it was much different for them. People used to call them (she then buries her voice) 'niggers' you know."
I sat motionless, startled.
She continues, "I always hated that word and never called them that. Except when I thought they deserved it. You know, like when they were acting like one."
At that point, I was about to stand up, walk over to her and kick her chair or something. I didn't look at the busdriver, but she made no reply. I imagine she was a struck as I was. About three seconds later, a woman appeared to the left of me ready to take me back to the row of dentistry chairs in the back. I stood up, glared at her and cleared my throat in her direction and proceeded back into the office.
I guess when she talks about the simpler times, she's referring to when people were shameless bigots and they sprayed black kids with high-powered hoses. When presidents were white men. You know, when blacks had to use different water fountains. We forgive old people too often when they spew obvious and unmistakable hate. I think, as the younger generation, part of our social maturation means correcting the err of the older generations. You can't just say, "Okay, starting now no more bigotry." If you tolerate the hate of the older generation, you've made no progress. I'm guilty of it too. Trust me. In fact, I should've stopped this woman and said, "Stop talking, ma'am. You're about to make a really big mistake." I didn't. I just sat there purely as a witness to her racehate.
Gotta love West Texas. But let's be real. It's not just West Texas. It's not just at the dentist office. It's not just old people. And it's not just blacks and Latinos. Hate and intolerance is so thick in this country. Lucky for me, I rarely have collisions with it because the people I associate with primarily know my sensitivity to bigotry and hate. Secondly, I don't roll in public that often. I have my safe zones, but I don't particularly like being around people. For the longest time out of high school, I was a sponge for experience. I put myself in situations that made me uncomfortable so I could learn, grow. Maybe defend my point, but it grew old and exhaustive. You just can't change the world. Now I anonymously jab from The Root Down and expect to change the world through a blog that has no readership except for my closest friends and family.
Man, this coffee is dark this morning. Second morning in a row. Good thing, though. I'm so tired.
Rangers were shut out last night...again at home versus the A's. Gotta win the easy ones if you're going to make the playoffs. Sawx won again last night in the ninth innings versus the Angels. The wild card lead climbs to 6.5 games. Yankees won in the ninth as well last night. We're still 6.5 behind in the division.
I love you for who you are. Keep on rockin, son. It's Thursday.