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October 3, 2013

It’s funny how people use things to label, define, and package you not matter where you go in the world.  Yesterday I was trying to find food for lunch when I got accosted by a man with a few large Club beers in him.  It was pretty predictable… at first.

He smooched at me (an accepted way to getting people’s attention) and waved me over, “Come!”  I hate that so I waved dismissively and kept walking.  Persistent, as men often are, he came over once I sat down.

“Hey, babe.  Where are you from?”

He looked like a student so I was instantly annoyed.  “Excuse me,” I said, “but you don’t call professors ‘babe.’”

He ignored me and asked where I was from.  I told him I was American.

“Wow!  Which state?”

“Missouri.”

He clapped his hands while I continued to stare deadpan and wait for him to leave.

“Which part?”

I told him I was from Columbia.

“Shut up!  M-I-Z…!  I’m a Tiger!  Poli-Sci degree.”

I told him that was nice and again waited for him to leave.  It crossed my mind to ask him why he was a student at Cuttington University in Liberia if he had a degree from Mizzou, but I was more interested in my roasted meat and plantains.  He, however, wasn’t finished.

“Now be serious.  You aren’t really from Columbia.  Kansas City, right?  St. Louis?  No one is from Columbia.”

I shrugged and stuck with my story.

“Ok.  Ok.  You went to Rockbridge?” he asked.

I shook my head, “Hickman.”

He literally collapsed laughing, “You went to Hickman High School?  Are you sure?”

I continued to nod.

“Oooooh shiiiit!” he turned to his friends and pointed.  “Look, look!  This is a poor white woman!  She’s poor!  Wow, baby, what are you doing here?”

But he didn’t care.  He had established his place and my place and was done with me.  He laughed all the way back to his table and I could hear him continuing his chorus of, “She’s poor!  That white woman is poor!”

It was the most confused I’ve been in a long time.  Since moving to Cuttington I have struggled with being seen as “rich and white” before being seen as “RB.”  Everything is about money and what can you do for me?  And suddenly I was being laughed at for going to a poor public high school eleven years ago… by a citizen of one of the world’s poorest countries.

At least none of them asked me for money… or my phone number…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. E.Lime permalink
    October 4, 2013 1:39 am

    That is a crazy story! I’m resisting the urge… ok, I’ll say it: what a small world we live in sometimes. And smallminded, too (him, not you–you are obviously thoughtful). I send my love.

  2. October 4, 2013 12:11 pm

    Love this story. Big hugs to you from Columbia

    Sent from my iPhone

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