How would you react?

I only missed writing for one day, but it feels like it was a week or so. Maybe that’s partly because for the past week or so I’ve been kind of spiraling with the depression and dissociating a little bit and the last several entries were written during that phase.

I don’t know that I’m on an upward swing or if it’s just completely easier for me to be “on” when Jerry is home. He got home at around 4:30 this morning, along with his co-driver who had to wait several hours until he could get his Greyhound ticket to go home, about a four hour drive away.

I’d known for certain since Friday that he was going to be home today but still didn’t get much cleaning done until the very last minute. Changing my OCD aversion to cleaning will be my next DIY self-improvement project. I canceled our Home Visit from the Head Start lady yesterday, partially because of how chaotic, cluttered, and basically disgusting my apartment was. It really was that bad. I didn’t really get focused & motivated until I knew he would be arriving in about six hours.

Anyway, I stayed up to wait for him. I finally went to bed around 2:30 a.m. but was restless. When he got in I was semi-conscious, but not functional. Luna woke up briefly and snuggled over to him. I am really looking forward to having more space to myself on the bed for the next several nights.

She went right back to sleep but Jerry & I didn’t get much rest. When I came out of our room I found his co-driver hadn’t slept either. Thankfully, Luna was able to go to her pre-school program today and she went without any problem even though it meant leaving daddy behind for a few hours.

Finally the time arrived to get his co-driver to the bus station. Jerry had parked the rig at his mom’s and borrowed her car to come home, so we drove downtown to the Greyhound station.

Our Greyhound station is next to the railroad station and is a stop for one of our local light rail transit lines, in addition to being at the North end of the Old Town portion of downtown. So, there are always a fair number of people hanging around with their bags, sleeping bags, and unkempt appearances.

We have a significant homeless population, many of whom regularly access hygiene, clothing and food services through various agencies that are networked to try to help the most at risk and vulnerable in our society. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between fellow travelers and the homeless, many of whom can be part of both categories.

As we were walking from the parking lot to the entrance this older gentleman with bright blue eyes, a significant growth of white scruff, which was slightly yellowed around the mouth, and an open, friendly smile started talking to us. He asked something about if we were of Irish descent. We responded, smiling, but kept trying to make progress toward the entry.

Between the three of us there were two lit cigarettes (I am an occasional smoker, very infrequent) and the guy said something about telling jokes for a smoke. We stopped and gave him one and a light. So, he continued to interact with us.

Then his jokes went from innocuous to bigoted: racist and sexist. They were the kind of statements and riddles that took me back to my childhood and growing up with the uncouth subculture and decidedly pre-PC generation that included my grandpa, Whitey, and his raucous cohorts.

Here is this old, slightly built guy who reminded me of my grandpa in both good and bad ways. It became fairly clear he was homeless and perhaps experiencing some kind of psychological disturbance. He thinks he’s being friendly and sociable and all he’s being is socially unacceptable and inappropriate without being overtly malicious.

My companions and I kept trying to edge away, exchanging awkward chuckles and stealthy glances in discomfort and disbelief. Finally he said something about what name to call him. I asked him if he was sure his name wasn’t Archie Bunker. Everyone laughed at that and we were finally able to make our escape.

The whole episode left my heart feeling sad and a sour taste in my mouth.

How might you have handled this encounter differently, perhaps more constructively?

Since I didn’t post yesterday I’m playing catch up.

Gratitude Days 19 & 20
• I am so grateful that we have come far enough that racially motivated “jokes” are no longer able to make us laugh or smile without also making us cringe and realize how wrong and horrific they really are.
• I am thankful that Jerry is home. Watching Luna dance and spin around, calling out,”Dance with me daddy, look at me!” just puts the biggest smile on my face.

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3 comments

  1. Depends on the day. I might have given him the cigarette but then said “excuse me we are in a rush, enjoy”. At the point he started tell racist, bigoted jokes I usually have 2 reactions:

    1. Get away quickly frequently without worrying if it might be taken bad

    2. Start lecturing on what kind of bigot jerk the person is being and how would they feel if someone started calling them x (whatever appropriate insults apply)

    Yeah I’ve broken up family holidays when members/gusts have done this. I’ve been a problem at other social and work situations. If I can’t walk away then there is a scene as I have zero tolerance. This has worried friends/boyfriends concerned I’m going to be harmed as I don’t care who I’m talking to or my personal safety or job security.

    So I don’t recommend my #2 reaction in most situations… LOL

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    1. Tasha,
      I think if I had sensed he was mentally functional and cognizant that he was capable of recognizing the right and wrong of it all and/or was doing it with malicious intent or a sense of justified righteousness, my reaction might have been closer to your second option. He was like a small child repeating something he’d seen others laugh or give positive attention for without understanding the meaning behind his words. I could be completely off in my assessment and just giving myself an easy out for not taking action on my principles and values when publicly tested.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

  2. Honestly? I don’t think I would have handled it any differently. I’m extremely non-confrontational. So, I would’ve just laughed and started edging toward the door like you did. I probably wouldn’t have even made the Archie Bunker joke…. not because I would’ve been too anxious too, but because I’m not that witty 😉 Haha.

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