Thursday, February 03, 2005


There is a black man that works downstairs in our office building's lobby. His name is Steven and he has always been quite friendly with me - to the point that if I see him in one of the restaurants or food courts during our mutual lunch hour, he will make it a point to wave and say hello to me. Which would be lovely indeed if he didn't always call me "boss".

"Hey boss. Good afternoon to you."

"Morning, boss. Have a nice day today."

This I would expect from a shoe-shine boy, but not a grown man that I call by his first name. And as I stated above, the man is black and there has been a history, in our country, of men of color calling white men "boss". My replies of, "Good morning Steven", or "Good afternoon Steven", would seem to fall on deaf ears, but what strikes me is that this man not only knows my first name and refuses to say it (this I know from the occassional utterance of my name), but he knows that saying "boss" chaps my ass and makes me feel awkward. How can I tell? There is a glimmer in his eye, a sheen of mischief and trouble that sparkles at the edges of his vision, watching as I enter the elevator and start my day, knowing that there is not a way I can prove to him my love for the darker races and my belief in man's equality, and shared noble spirit.

The man is a bastard, and an ass, and I've decided to not talk to him anymore.


T.S. Farmhand said...

You, sir, are a racist.

The use of "Boss" is entirely respectful, as anyone raised in Michiana should know. If you weren't so in love with Halle Berry you would understand what I'm talkin' 'bout.

King Koopa said...

Quite the sociological quandary…Now, Chris Rock will tell you that middle-aged black guys are the most racist people out there, and you know that when you’re walking away he’s thinking to himself: “Crackerass cracker…” Haha, He’s just fuckin with you, you’d have to start fuckin with people if you worked that job for long enough. Plus, your John Waters-lookin’ Boo Radleyass is about as whitebread as they come, my fair skinned friend (don’t worry, I’m right there w/ ya. Full disclosure of crackerdom: I walked out of the house this morning wearing tapered leg jeans…honestly…yeah, I know…I feel like I should peg them and wear deck shoes…). But, severing communications might not be your best course of action. Can’t you turn the proverbial tables here? Be like, “My friends call my Wonderbread” or something else inherently crackerish. Don’t begrudge him his workplace entertainment, just find a way to play along. In essence, wink back. In a nongay way.

Or, next time he calls you boss, tell him he can take the rest of the day off.

Rob said...

Does he sound like Rochester from the Jack Benny Show when he calls you boss? Well, whatever the case, I think you need to look to yourself. Do you treat him in that patronizing way so many white people use around black people of lower socio-economic stature? Ever call him "boy"?

Danny Fisher said...

Does he sound like Rochester from the Jack Benny Show when he calls you boss?

If the AM doesn't answer, we can check with his co-workers--Mel Blanc and Frank Nelson.

Pencopal said...

Please. You fucking love it.