Open Mouth, Insert...

Holidays at Work

It was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday today, and I stopped by a gas station this afternoon on my way to work to pick up a sandwich and a soda to munch on while I settled into the day's tedium. To my surprise—given that the convenience store part of the station is usually a pretty sleepy place when I normally stop by— the place was packed. The clientele was different as well; in addition to the usual assortment of small-payload truckers and professional suits, there was a family with about two children running about.

Maybe the knowledge of what day it was and what it was supposed to mean was rolling around in my head, but I made an observation which I normally pay no attention. I was struck by how diverse this group of people was—the group was mainly black, but there were two white men, including myself, and two Pakistanis behind the counter (they could have been Indian—I'm not really sure and I figured it was too rude to ask them outright)—and that nobody really paid attention. Everyone was waiting patiently in line, some of us chattering about the Carolina Panthers' victory in Philadelphia, as the guys behind the counter scrambled to deal with us as quickly as they could. And everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Now, I know that a line at a gas station counter isn't—or shouldn't be, depending on your point of view—a monumental example of racial harmony. But I was somehow struck by how pleasant and right it felt.

Therefore I was surprised when I got to the counter and joked with the guys at the counter about how busy it was, and one of them countered with "Yes, we're not used to having them in here."

One beat, two beats went by as I he must have registered my puzzled look.

"The kids," he qualified. Relieved, I agreed and joked with him a little more as I paid for my lunch and he bagged it for me. I walked out and took a deep breath, feeling that it was going to be a good day.

Then that I remembered that I still had to go to work. Ah well...

0 comment(s):