Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll returns returns in an autobiographical mode with A LIFE FULL OF MICROAGGRESSIONS. This seems to be part 1 of 2; you don’t want to miss this one. She writes:

Sometimes I think my life’s story could be called “A Life Full of Microaggressions.” What with “The Audacity of Hope” already taken and all. And it would be the same for every hapless human. I will mention a very few “slings and arrows” from my life. For example, In 7th grade I brought my adorable six-year-old sister to a school basketball game and a cool girl classmate said, “That’s your little sister? But, she’s so cute! She looks nothing like you.” Ouch.

Now, it’s true that I’ve never suffered the racist horror of being asked to reach something on a high shelf. The great novelist, Lee Child, who is 6’6”, got the name for his protagonist when his wife told him if this writing deal didn’t work out, he could always be a “Reacher” in supermarkets, so frequently was he asked for help. Me, only if elves are shopping. And very short elves at that.

I have countless times been mistaken for a Walmart employee by customers of every hue. And I’ve never once thought to be insulted by it. In the summer when it’s 117° outside, I walk at Walmart. So, when people see a lady without a cart, striding purposefully, they think “employee.” Still, it’s odd, because even in Arizona, Walmart’s uniform does not include an “I Carry a .9 Because A Cop Is Too Heavy” t-shirt. Yet.

Except for .22s, Walmart’s ammo shelves are now full, but a year go when I stood in line every day, I had the following micro-aggressive encounter. The new ammo was supposed to be out by 7 a.m. When it wasn’t, I asked the young lady in Customer Service to please page the manager. Over the P.A. System I heard, “Nate, that old lady who is always here for ammo wants to talk to you.” Moi! A woman of late, late middle age was called “old” by a Mexican youngster. Outloud! I am a very, very good Walmart customer. I probably could have gotten her fired if I were a thin-skinned, giant d**khead. Liberals love to get people fired. Conservatives like people to have jobs.

But I had been called old before. When I was 25 years old, I was taking karate in San Francisco and I lost the spare key to our apartment at the dojo. I put up a little note on the bulletin board about it. While I was changing into my gi (uni), behind the lockers, I heard a little gaggle of adolescent Asian girls reading the note, “Who’s that?” one asked, and another replied, “That’s that old white lady.” Just a pale crone at 25! Naturally, I sued the karate school, the teenage girls for racism and the makers of the gi for good measure. Not.

Could I ever have taken offense because of my religion? Oh, my. Once on a plane, I had ordered the kosher meal, and the well-dressed lout next to me looked up and out of the blue, said, “You people have to get over the Holocaust.” He is very lucky indeed that the silverware was plastic. It was a long, silent flight. At a minimum I could have asked to be reseated because I didn’t feel “emotionally safe.” Truth to tell, I was hoping he would make a move so I could strangle him with the oxygen cord. Was that wrong?

And once, many decades ago in New York City, waiting on the corner for my husband to pay the tab in a diner, I was approached by a very icky man who took me for a hooker. I wore no makeup, and had on tennies, jeans and an old flannel shirt that just screamed hooker. Wasn’t that more insulting than being mistaken for a valet? I don’t frequent places that have valets, but the few times I have, they have all been fit young men who run for the cars.

But, perhaps, my most hilarious “dis” occurred early in my career. A do-gooder working with Shakopee Women’s Prison called and begged me to entertain – for free, of course. Many of the ladies there are of color. I booked the date, even turned down paid work later for that date. One day before the event, the lady called. “The women don’t want your little skit”, she said. “They voted for square dancing instead.” Yes, that’s right. Not bumped from The Tonight Show because a much bigger star ran over his time. Bumped from doing “my little skit” for free in a women’s prison. Is there no one I can sue for that? Al, Jesse, little help here!

Millions of African-Americans raise families and get up every day and work without complaint or inventing grievances. I could name 10 at my local Walmart alone. To those other African-Americans who see “raaacism” in every human encounter, I say this in love and sincerity: I have been insulted and demeaned for my age, my sex, my religion, my profession, my height, my looks, my politics, and my race by the whole Rainbow Coalition. It is called Life, lived among disappointing, imperfect, sometimes-cruel human beings. It happens to everybody. You just aren’t that special. Get over yourself.

A microaggression is just that: micro. On second thought, instead of “A Life Full of Microaggressions,” my life’s story should be called simply “A Life Full.” I am blessed beyond any possible sense of merit. People who look for offenses with a magnifying glass: Count your blessings. Start appreciating and enjoying your life. You will be a much happier person.

Next week the discussion continues in “Microaggressions go to college.”

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