"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there
Friday, September 24, 2010
Cultural Sensitivity: A three part series
We have one grocery store in our town. It pretty much sucks. Its a Key Food.
In NYC, Key Food=ghetto grocery. Over priced and poorly stocked, it has stayed in business because they accepted WIC and food stamps. For several years, I'd do small shopping there instead of driving 15 minutes for a quart of half n half and a loaf of bread. I always hoped it would come under new management and get an extreme grocery makeover. And lo and behold, it did. I guess it was bought by a family or maybe friends/business partners. A bunch of men.
I noticed better produce. I noticed more variety and organic stuff. I noticed the place was way cleaner.
They put in new freezer cases and more pleasant lighting.
The change was noticeable. I also noticed the new owners. Middle Easterners. Just keeping it real, folks. Could be Saudi. Could be Iraqi or Iranian. Could be Jordanian or Palestinian. How do I know? And, honestly, why would I care? I wouldn't. Idon't. I had noticed women assumedly wivesand children coming into the store.
The women wore traditional dress. Heads covered. Arms and legs covered. They drove minivans. Whatever. Like I said. It didn't make a damn difference to me. Until one Sunday evening a few months ago when I unexpectedly got my period. The 2 drugstores in our town were already closed. Key Food was the only place open. I looked up and down the aisles. No tampons. There was a section filled with every brand, size, and absorbency of pad manufactured, but no tampons Seriously??? No tampons. No douches. No squirt up the hoo-ha stuff for yeast infections I bought a package of pads and let a rant loose on Bruce Chica, maybe they're just sold out No way Bruce they don't sell them cause they think only one thing should be up there and it's not a tampon Chica. I can't believe you just said that I blame part of my rant on hormones. Some. Not all. I said it cause obviously I think it. Last week Mia said mommy what does stereotype mean? I tried to explain. She didn't get it On Thursday she and I stopped at Key Foodto get stuff for dinner.
Right at the front of the store, we saw a Big Middle Eastern Key Food Meathead Guy with his big paw around the neck of one of the Key Food cashiers. He was whispering right up in her face and wagging his left index finger and I could see the fingers of his right hand digging into her left cheek.
She was looking down at the ground, not moving a muscle. If anyone local is reading, she's the super competent one with the pretty eyes and the Cindy Crawford mole You know when you witness something so outrageously out of place that it takes a minute for it to register? We walked right past them and my brain refused to accept what I was seeing It started to click when I felt the tension coming off the chick who was ringing us up. She visibly relaxed as soon as Middle Eastern Meathead Guy let Cindy loose.
The whole thing happened so damn fast. Mia and I took 2 steps out of the store and I looked at her and said that didn't look right, did it? No mommy. Not at all. how awesome is she? I put the groceries in the car. Mia got in. I stood there in the parking lot.
Big Middle Eastern Meathead Guy came out of the store to collect grocery carts. Is that him? Mia nodded yes. I still stood there Mommy... What are you thinking? You have that look on your face. What are you going to do? I'm not sure honey. So what do you do? If I had intervened at the time, would she get the shit beaten out of her later? Would she get the shit beaten out of her regardless? I assume they have a relationship beyond employer/employee. If they don't can I go to the police? Do I boycott Key Food? What good would that do? Absolutely none. I looked at Mia. For a million and one reasons I couldn't let her see me walk away as though what we saw was ok. We forgot something. Mommy, we didn't forget anything. Ketchup. We forgot ketchup. You can't have meatloaf without ketchup. Mommy. We HAVE ketchup. I know we do honey. We can always use more. We went back inside. Cindy was in the little plexiglass kiosk with the cigarettes and lotto tickets. Knock knock Hi can I help you? Are you ok? Smile. Puzzled. Yeah I'm fine She looks at Mia and looks back at me and reddens. I'm ok You sure? Yeah. I'm sure I have my own first hand experience with verbal and emotional abuse. My guess is some of you know how lonely and isolating abusive relationships are. I sure do. Sometimes, most of the time, the loneliness was the worst part. There wasn't much I could do. But I wanted Cindy to know that I saw and that it's not OK. So I was am biased. I don't think that being Middle Eastern makes a man more likely to be abusive. At least I don't think I think that. Why would I think that? Because "their" women are all covered up? Because they won't sell tampons? Because what the fuck do I know? The guy I allowed to abuse me was not Middle Eastern. I know nothing. It's all just an opportunity to try and figure out what the fuck is going on around here. Tune in tomorrow for Part II and I still hate Blogger cause I can't get the font size right
"it occurred to me that the only real sin you can commit as a mother is to deny your children's right to be who they are and what they want to be and that the only real sin you can commit against yourself is to deny who you truly are and prevent yourself from being who that is"