Nonexistent prejudice, a tender reminiscent time from my childhood, prior to the moment of realization that racial prejudice existed right then and would continue throughout my lifetime, and likely, forevermore.
Arriving home after high school, a friend of color and daughter of a U.S. Army colonel was with me. I introduced her to my parents. We planned to grab my tennis racket and drive to the Fort Ben Tennis Courts.
Tennis racket in hand, I grabbed my keys, we said good-bye and returned to my car. The engine wouldn’t start! Anxiously I ran to tell my dad, a mechanic. He would know what to do. He came outside and raised the car hood.
Standing with my dad, we looked at my engine. In disbelief, I realized the distributor cap was missing! I turned to look at my dad. Surprisingly, his look of, ‘I did it’, sent a displeased message to me, in silence.
Gathering my composure, I returned to apologize to my friend. My car needed repaired and I would be unable to play tennis. I wish I could recall whether we took her home, or if her parents came to get her.
Imposed prejudice is a rude awakening for an open arms child to comprehend. The harsh reality is, that it steals innocent joy from a child and replaces it with an unjustified, haughty seed of prejudice.
In future years I’d be the wife of a Pharmacy Tech for a U.S. Army Hospital in Augsburg, Germany. Our careers since then were all Equal Opportunity Employers, where pride existed without prejudice.
In the early reality of old age, when the horizon comes into focus with glasses, numerous new options become viable and available to us. Upon reflecting, saving for more than half of our working years makes retirement possible, the discipline to save plausible, and security from savings stockable.
It turns out, unintended consequences become a reality as well. Sure, paid off debts, savings, a pension, Social Security, IRA’s and 401K plans make retirement possible. Owning your own home is ideal, but unsuspecting retirees have become the focus of opportunists who care less about our ideals.
We thought we’d have newfound freedom in our retirement, not just in the sense of living on our savings, but to roam freely as well. It turns out, a new sense of caution develops and hinders our free will to roam, especially alone.
To relate: my spouse and I would wait until the weekend to grocery shop for ourselves and my parents. I retired a few months earlier than my spouse, so I decided to shop during the week. This would hopefully free up my spouse and I up for the weekend.
Twice in a month I was approached in the grocery store parking lot by unknown people as I returned to my car.
On the first occasion, I saw a 30’ish year old woman conversing with shoppers a few rows away from my car. She caught sight of me and sure enough, made her way over. She said, “Ma’am, I don’t mean to bother you, but…”. I felt isolated and compromised, so I excused myself and left, rather than speak with her.
On the second occasion, I was returning to my car in a more populated area when I saw a 40ish year old, physically fit man, hurriedly traversing the store parking lot. Fortunately for me, he cut through the lot short of my row, only to circle back to ask, “Do you need some help loading your groceries?”
I said, “No thank you”, but he lingered and asked: “What do you make of all this pandemic?” I was wearing a mask. He wasn’t, so I said: “Maybe the best we can do is to wear a mask!” He then said, “Is Jesus in any of that?” Again, I excused myself and left.
Once at home, I shared with my spouse the two recent encounters. We agreed that we didn’t have these types of experiences shopping together, so we decided to resume doing so. We also agreed on a plan should future awkward encounters present.
Prior to shopping alone and to avoid surprises in grocery store parking lots, consider your courses of action should unexpected encounters occur. Minimally, you might consider holding your key fob, either as a weapon or to press panic to honk your horn.
You must be logged in to post a comment.