An Open Letter to the Lady Sharing the Elevator

Dear Lady on the Elevator:

I acknowledge the possibility that your parent(s) did not teach you propriety and common courtesy, but I wanted to inform you that Western culture considers it rude when you refuse to acknowledge someone’s presence, especially when they acknowledge yours first. I also recognize that you seem to have some perception of danger seeing as how you’ve (a) clutched your purse tightly to your body in a protective manner and (b) physically moved in between me and your child.

Nevermind that my own child is currently perched on my shoulders, or in the case that he is elsewhere, that I belong here in this building. As you may recall, you had to enter this building by first going through a locked gate and then through a locked set of doors, and there are cameras in the lobby and outside, meaning my image was recorded the entire time. That aside, my manner of dress suggests I belong here since, every day, I wear a collared shirt, slacks, belt, and dress shoes—business attire. Most often I have a computer bag on my shoulder. In fact, I am most often better dressed than most of the gentlemen in the building (by other people’s comments, not my own observation).

This leads naturally into my next point. Everyone who has residence in this building is either a student of the seminary or a spouse of a student. In fact, I am both, in addition to being an employee of the seminary. As such, I now have three reasons to belong in this elevator with you. While we can’t make too many hard assumptions, one can reasonably guess that as an employee, student, and spouse, I have been vetted by the seminary as having decent character (actually, the seminary ran a background check on me as an employee, which is more than I can say for your spouse).

As such, I can’t help but wonder that the reason for your reaction toward me has something to do with the only thing different about me that you can see: my skin color. You should know that I have somewhat of a mean streak when it comes to these kinds of reactions. The more you ignore me and act rudely, the nicer I will act toward you. In fact, I am now inclined to go out of my way to display polite behavior and engage in considerate public discourse with you. It’s not going to stop until you acknowledge that (a) I am a human being and that (b) I belong here. You may feel differently about it, but I’m sorry to report that my spouse, the school, and my employer all politely disagree with you.

Interestingly, according to the FBI, by percent and by number, you’ll more likely be the victim of a crime caused by someone who looks more like you than me. Except gambling; evidently the numbers say I’m highly likely to commit crimes of gambling against you. But that’s okay: you may continue to be rude as long as I can continue to make you uncomfortable by treating you with dignity.

With great irony,

–Me

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