Friday, December 22, 2006

appearances

i was at work yesterday evening, shooting the breeze with a couple of co-workers. one was another black girl and the other was a really cool white guy. they were catching up on gossip around the office and started talking about how i never know what's going on around there because i only work about 20 hours a week. i usually go into the office in the evening to finish up so i can be with my kids during the day. so, i was being clueless as usual, admitting to not knowing who's sleeping with whom or who got promoted, etc, when out of the blue my friend, the white guy turns to me and says (irritatingly!) , " Black girl, does your man make THAT much damn money that you only have to work 20 hours a week?!"

i was taken aback. that's what people at work think? that we're so well off that i choose to work 20 hours a week because i have nothing better to do? i smiled and got really embarassed. flattered, i triedto pretend that my embarassment was because what he suggested was true. what do you say to that? because actually the opposite is true; my man makes just enough that we get by and those measly 20 hours i work really helps us out. in the field that i'm in, even just 20 hours make a difference. in other words, we need my "little" 20 hours.

i smiled and laughed it off and didn't try to dissuade him from thinking that. how does someone get by working 20 hours a week? the truth is, that the perception of my husband making such big money and me working only 20 hours a week because i'm a bored well -off semi-housewife is a nice thought, and honestly what i'd like people to think. actually it's mainly other black people that i'd like to think that. well, aqaintance black people who don't know me well enough to know otherwise. but i'll settle for anyone thinking that.

i married my husband because i love him. this is going to sound so wrong but here goes. now that we're married (and we've been married 10 years), i feel like there's a status thing to live up to, him being white and all. i mean, if you're a black woman married to a white guy with no money, what's the point? obviously i don't feel that way, but i know there's a lot of black people who do, like, they'd only get with someone white if he had money. why else would a black woman be with a white guy???

here's another truth: that nice, big Landcruiser(and i'm sorry but i love that thing) you people at work see me driving? pretty nice, huh? how can we afford that thing with me working 20 hours? for one thing, my husband insisted we have his dream suv. but let me put it this way. if i weren't working that 20 hours, i definitely wouldn't be rolling it. and the cost to fill it up? i wouldn't know these days, since i haven't been able to actually top it off in almost a year with the gas prices.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The old saying about assumptions.

Your male coworker's statement makes assumptions about your life.

Your assumptions are about other people's perceptions of your blackness and your husband's whiteness.

My assumptions include: that I am talking with someone who's interested in finding out new things and learning; that I will hopefully be perceived as friendly and honest; that being white doesn't negate my opinion concerning being a minority.

I have to ask, what do you expect people to do? I feel like there's an ideal state and we're all either aware and trying to get there or aimlessly bumbling around in the path to get there, but over all we're improving upon ourselves... that is to say, getting better at not making assumptions and not caring when people are wrongheaded or daft.

I agree, though, knowing someone's actions stem from their own inexperience or ignorance does not fix how they make you feel.

skyview satellite said...

That's great! Thanks for a post that made me laugh out loud!

Whatever one can reasonably do to appear higher status, one ought to do. We certainly treat higher status people better and lower status people worse. Race is just one factor that we use to read how well we are expected to treat somebody. If you can impress upon your coworkers that your being there is a mere hobby, an indulgence, a whim of good will, that's just as well. They will treat you more deferentially because you don't have to be there, but they do.

On another subject entirely, I know many folks who are wealthy in a fashion that most of us will only dream about and they universally drive sedans and sports cars. Lexus sedans, Beamers, Benzes, even Subarus and Prius'. Performance and control are a big deal. By and large they loathe SUVs as a sign indicator that the driver is employing physical size as a cover for living beyond their means. They consider an SUV a lower and middle-class status symbol, and wouldn't be caught dead in one. Ecepting perhaps the SUV from Lexus or, in the case of Gus Van Zant, from Porshe. But generally, the bigger the SUV the more hated it is, especially if it is American made. For what it's worth.

Aly Cat 121 said...

girl you off the hook. LOL *shakin head* You know you love your hubby for who he is and not what he can do for you. And it's great that you can be able to work 20 hours a week. Sh*t with the prices of day care, one parent pratically HAS to stay home. We are poor as sh*t and I don't work, not cuz my Hubby is "rollin" it's cuz with all the babies we have, the money I made teaching would be just enough to cover day care, and gas and an extra car note. So why work, just to pay the baby sitter and the car note?

AB said...

I used to work at a place where the lower the pay the fancier the car. The President drove a Buick, but his secretary a corvette. Seemed weird to me.