Today, I went to my favorite pizza spot for lunch. As soon as I sat down, the waitress approached my table, gave me a menu, and asked me what I wanted to drink. “I don’t need a menu. I’ll have the two slice special, please.” In the time between the waitress’ question and my response, I heard a woman exclaim in her barely hushed outside voice, “We were here before her.” I turned my head in the direction of the voice to see who said it.
She was white.
She was shooting daggers at me from her eyes.
I fought to hide the smug smile that was trying to overtake my face.
I was immediately taken back to an incident that happened when I was little. I had to be younger than seven because my sister had not yet joined our family. Mom and I were sitting in a doctor’s office. People came and went and we were still waiting to be seen. I asked, “Mom, why are we still waiting? We were here before them.” She stopped flipping through a magazine, looked down at me and said, “Because we’re Black.” She offered no further explanation. She just returned to her magazine. I sat quiet, confused, and stunned. That five second exchange was scorched into my memory and permanently tinted the lense through which I looked at life.
So when I heard the same sentiment uttered today in response to my being served first, that little Black girl sitting in the doctor’s office broke out into the Cabbage Patch.
This wasn’t exactly an instance of the shoe being on the other foot. The waitress was white. I didn’t know her, so she wasn’t doing me a favor. For whatever reason, she came to my table first. Not two seconds later, she went to their table.
But I’ll take it.