So I went to the mall to get my hair cut. As it happens, I was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt. If you want to see the latent racism in Coralville/Iowa City, wear a Black Lives Matter shirt to the Coral Ridge Mall. I wasn’t looking for this reaction. To be completely honest about my foibles, I started out more self-conscious about what people of color would think. Nono. We’re talking middle-aged white men, with long, closed-mouthed stares. I haven’t felt such disapproval since the time I dyed my hair punk red.
But I got my haircut. Snip snip. I discovered I’d inadvertently left my wallet at home. I payed the stylist from the cash in my coat, which left me with a remaining $10 bill. It was lunchtime, so I went to the foodcourt, and ordered some of that teriyaki chicken that they like to offer as free samples. Teriyaki chicken, in a Styrofoam box. I rifled my coat, and there was no cash in my pocket. The Latino in the paper hat waited behind his wok. I muttered and rummaged. Then this twenty-something tapped me on the shoulder, and handed me my bill, and said I’d dropped it across the foodcourt, by the kid carts and the carousel. I blustered. Honest Twenty smiled at me, glanced at my chest, and smiled again. And you know? I don’t think she was checking out my McGuffies.
(Originally posted January 18, 2017)