As he left, he stopped at the desk and told me that he wouldn't mind being told not to talk on the phone if only we were more vigilant. I started to explain, "We try to be consistent --" and he cut me off. "No you don't," he said. "You don't tell black people to be quiet."
If this middle-aged white man had allowed me to finish my sentence, I would have explained that sometimes we are too busy with other customers to hop right up and inform people of the cell phone policy. But he didn't. He stomped out.
Now, of course, I had a few immediate mental retorts, starting with:
- That is 100% not true.
- "Reverse racism." HAAAA ha haha ha ha. I'm honored, sir.
- I didn't tell you to be quiet, I suggested, in an EXTREMELY nonthreatening way, that you take your conversation to a specific area of the library where your conversation was less likely to distract people who are quietly working.
We mostly don't quibble with people talking on their phones in the library - except in the computer area. At the time when he signed onto one of our PCs, a number of people were working over there in complete silence. Sometimes you'll get a pair of people working on a resume or an online form, or homework - and we do not police their conversations unless they get unduly loud - but today, the entire time he was over there, not one soul uttered a single word.
But that was not his point.
His point was that he couldn't STAND to be reprimanded, however gently. He felt singled out. And to that I say, Oh my brother, you should stage a sit-in. JUSTICE NOW! Someone asked you to not do something you wanted to do - like swim in a pool, or go to college, or vote, or eat at a restaurant... JUST LIKE THAT.
Except no, you butt-hurt former Master of the Universe. NOTHING LIKE THAT.
And once I got home and read about 20 picture books to get the taste of that interaction out of my mind, one more mental retort came to mind:
Not that my tiny experience today is an indicator of the nation at large, BUT. I have a feeling that, as a Trump presidency recedes to its resting state of farcical and distasteful premise, we will be seeing more incidents of Trump supporters lashing out, in minor to major ways. This is not the first instance of a middle-aged white man expressing undue anger at the library recently.
The candidate's willingness to spew retrograde, reactionary poison in the public arena has given these attitudes a renewed - and fraudulent - validity, and now people who follow him think it's all right and even brave to say out loud things that we've been telling them to be ashamed to even think. NO. BE ASHAMED. GO BACK TO THAT.
Just today, an imam and his assistant were murdered leaving their mosque. Do you think that the person who pulled that trigger had a Hillary bumper sticker on his mid-size piece-of-shit American car? No. That is a person who thought, for a brief shining moment, that his orange knight was going to put things RIGHT in this country. Was going to reverse the progress that has been made in religious and racial tolerance, was going to put white men BACK where they belong - as the only relevant point of view.
The end of Trump will not be the end of that point of view.
It's going to be important, in the down-stream races, especially the Congressional races, not to allow any claims that the popularity of his campaign is a mandate by a hitherto-unvoiced segment of America to go unchallenged. That segment has ALWAYS had a voice - in fact, it was THE voice for most of our history. They just weren't activated - they didn't need to be. And now, people with racist and xenophobic beliefs are a minority, and I think they've finally figured that out.
They're mad, and they're going to get madder. And we're going to have to worry that every time we ask one to adhere to even minimal behavioral guidelines, we're going to get accused of shit, berated, and complained about. GOD. What else is new?