I wear my most comfortable clothes when I'm nervous. It makes me look frumpy and unassuming. I've noticed people react differently to me when I wear these clothes. Today was a case in point, or was it all in my mind?
It's early morning and me and Rosa met up at Fat Albert's. She wanted to play the lottery and I needed my cheap cigars. The lottery room was already busy with anxious black men trying their luck. You could almost feel the anxiousness in the air. I stepped up to the counter to be greeted by an unfamiliar black lady.
"Two cartons of smoker's choice in the blue," I said.
"You don't smoke all these per week, do you?" she asked abruptly.
I stood for a moment at a loss for words. I didn't know what to say. It was such a forward question.
"That's none of your business," I finally blurted out.
She huffily grabbed my cigars and rung me up. I wrote a check and they drafted the amount from my account. I walked outside to tell Rosa what happened.
"She's new and she's a bitch," Rosa said.
It really got off with me. You would think that she would want to sell me whatever I wanted instead of making some obtuse comment about my smoking habits. I was red faced and embarrassed.
"You are so sensitive," Rosa told me as I was driving us home.
"I wish I just didn't care, but it embarrassed me," I replied. "There was a long line behind me."
I chalked it up to the frumpy clothes I was wearing - my pull ups with an old raggedy Auburn Tigers t-shirt, tube socks, and my most comfortable but threadbare pair of tennis shoes. I looked poor and penniless. An easy target for snarky comments.