Notre-Dame de Paris caught fire last year, and you wanna know what my memory of that day is? Urgh, the old coot I used to enjoy helping at the grocery store where I used to work, until that day. Him, his blue hat, and his loud and misguided Made-in-the-USA Islamophobia.
Old (Caucacious) Man Chad. A well-traveled man, who speaks Spanish and French, so prior to that day, we’d carry on like that, sometimes. “Hola, cómo está?” “Hola, Bonjour. Ah, oui, tu parles français aussi!” (🙄 It’s like, yeah, motherfucker, and Italian, too.) Pleasant enough, if inappropriate, at times. His stories about learning Spanish often led to Mexico and to chasing skirts around town. Because a side of cringe is what everyone out there, simply trying to do their job, craves. Yuck. One time, he came to talk to me at reception and, in front of a manager, tried to hook me up with his secretary.
No one is getting paid enough to put up with all that shit, OK.
That day that man came in hot, fuming about the cathedral being on fire, and certain that the incident had been the doing of, “those Muslims – they did it!” I posited that it was Paris, that everyone smokes there, and everyone everywhere is always tossing away their cigarette butts out on the streets, like it’s NBD (for shame, still – double-yuck; quit being dicks, people). Presuming and venturing that the cathedral was undergoing renovations, because that thing is medieval (it was, btw), I tried to pivot and redirect his propaganda-infused thinking toward a much simpler theory: Perhaps, more probably, it was nothing more than an accident; a careless construction worker likely flicked his cigarette where they shouldn’t have.
Yeah, no. He was convinced.
And yes, this happened. In America…in 2019. On a Monday morning that was nice until it wasn’t. Jean-Jacques Annaud will not be telling you about this in the upcoming movie, OK.
But I remember, and this story has to live in black and white, in 0s and 1s, because it can’t live rent-free in my head anymore.
It was Tax Day that day. I remember because from that day on, I made the conscious effort not to pay the tax of having to talk to that man in the blue hat – of having to help him – because I’d have to listen to him, and I had lost all interest. Plus, I definitely did not get paid enough at all to endure his casual racism and xenophobia. I’d shared, I’d told him a little bit about me, so he knew I was an immigrant. What ever goes through some of these people’s heads here in San Francisco. Anywhere, really. Making it harder for people to get, do, or hold on to a job….
As a reminder, the deadline toward Tax Day this year was extended from April 15 to July 15, on account of the novel coronavirus global pandemic.
And don’t any of y’all think that we forgot that Donald “the Impeached” Trump never showed the country his tax returns. Nadie sabe para quién trabaja, alright.