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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Racism, Bitch Mom, Panda Sex and the Pain (and joy) of Storytime at My House ...


... this is a story about my work.


Now, I try really hard not to talk about work here. I vaguely try as much as I can without any effort to make this blog seem somewhat semi-professional and in doing so I try to stick to funny stories and observations and lecherous raconteur tales from my life and my past, as well as a few daddy moments of weakness when I show off pictures of my kids. And some naughty bits. I try not to touch too much on work. Work talk is boring, usually, and I really don't like reading that crap on somebody else's online diary. Yeah, I know your job sucks, dude. Join the club. It ain't nothing new that I haven't heard before, you know?


But I have to mention what happened to me today. It's a story of anger and racism and tears and happiness. Yeah there's some happiness. I just had to work at it to get there.


Now, being a brown man such as myself ...




... it is incredibly difficult for me, as well as it must be for all people who don't have blonde hair and blue eyes and white ivory skin, NOT to take every negative interaction with somebody as a racist interaction. Someone treats you like shit at the Hollywood Video? Was that person a racist? Well, probably not. People who work at video stores are young douchebags and therein lies the problem - is it a racist incident or are you just dealing with an asshole?


That is the catch-22 that all people of a non-white race deal with every day of their lives.


After years and years of dealing with intense Arizona white christian elderly republican mormon white trash racism of the dirtiest kind, I had worked myself into a comfortable position here in Sacramento amongst the intense amount of asians and russians here, to a point where I sometimes forget that I have brown skin and long hair and impressive fingernails and a very mexican moustache.


I forget that I'm mexican, I've been so americanized.




But recently, and I'm talking about the last eight to twelve months here, I have slowly but steadily been noticing more and more blatant moments of racism between myself, bright eyed and bushy tailed and eager to help people at work, and the white yuppie middle aged bastards that I help ...


- women holding their purses with deer-in-headlights eyes and a fierce death grip the moment I walk past them

- people asking me for help ... IN SPANISH ... and I don't speak a fucking lick of it

- I ask someone for help, they say no, then ten seconds later go ask cute little Lisa for help (substitute any nice looking white person for Lisa)


... but today was the worst, the absolute 100% worst bit of racism that I've have ever experienced in five years that I have been living here, an incident that upset me so much so that I actually left work two hours early because I was so pissed off over all of it.


Now, as anyone who reads this thing on a semi-regular basis already knows, I take my twice weekly storytimes ve-e-e-e-ery seriously ...




I don't get a stage anymore. My friend Greg, he's going to be on Days of Our Lives this wednesday and I am eternally jealous. I almost wish I hadn't signed him up without his knowledge to that gay bondage website in '95 but I digress. The last play I was in was Bleacher Bums back in Phoenix, for which I was paid in subs, pot and a few hundred dollars, my biggest payday so far. I used to be in a few plays a year, a whole bunch of stand up, I was all over the place trying to gain a spotlight anywhere I could.


Now all I have left is my tiny little stage and my storytimes and my regular kids who spend an hour or two a week listening to me ad-lib to children's books. So I take it extremely seriously and personally. When one of my fellow employees told me about all the businessmen who have complained about the noise level during storytime, I got so upset that it ruined the next two days for me. When two eight year old little brats who were dropped off in kids while their mom read religious books started making fun of me and saying "Bo-o-o-oring" during a story, I stood up and told them to leave the store. When they told me the didn't want to leave, I told them to just be quiet and listen. Two moms clapped at me for that. I love storytimes. It validates the rest of my job.


First off, I made the announcement IN the children's section. I shouldn't have done that. I usually do the announcement in the manager's office or in receiving. But today I did it in my department. There were nine families in kids before my announcement. When I was doing it, the families got excited, talked amongst themselves, got a look at me, and promptly dragged their kids out of the store. Three minutes after the announcement and the section was empty.


I had six kids show up for storytime.


Four of them - blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect little kids - sat down with their father and were just so incredibly excited for storytime. They were jumping up and down and laughing. They were so excited. As I started going over the schedule, the mom came in. Not seeing me, I heard her say "OOH, are they having storytime?" Then, after seeing me, she quickly and angrily said "NO, nonono, we are NOT staying for this, not with ... him. No, no ..." and dragged the kids out by their arms. The kids were crying and kicking the whole time, screaming that they wanted to stay, but the mommy said "No, not with that guy, no, we need to finish shopping" and yanked them out of storytime.


The two remaining kids were excited, more for the treasure box than anything, but once I started the first book one of them said "I want to hear storytime but could you wait? I want to check out some books" and promptly left, checking out sticker books and junior Star Wars novels.


And there I was, alone in kids, a possible victim of racism, not as exciting as an Over the Hedge sticker book, all alone. It was my first storytime no show since 2004. And it hurt like fuck.


I waited around, books and treasure box in my arm, waiting for a bunch of kids to run up saying "Sorry we're late, Mr. Steve" but I began to give up 25 minutes of nothing. Just then two girls came in, running in to the section, jumping up and down. I hoped to god that they were for storytime. I asked the grandmother if she needed any help, hoping to hear "Yeah, we're here for storytime." Instead, she told me she was looking for a skinny paperback dictionary with pictures and big print, the one she saw at Costco. When I showed her every fucking dictionary we had, she started giving me shit that we didn't have what Costco had.


I was trying not to cry. That says a lot about me. I'm vaguely ashamed of that but its true. I tried my damnedest not to start bawling my eyes out.


After talking with Nicolas, he made me realize that I was feeling sick (wink wink) and I went home two hours early. No point in me being in an empty section. I frightened everyone away.




At seven pm tonight, I did a three audience storytime, the smallest audience I've had since 2003. But it was still the best one I've ever done. The audience was my two daughters and my wife. I read three books, got the audience to be loud and scream just like at my regular storytimes, and I even got to be dirty a few times, something I definitely CANNOT do at work.


It made me feel better that my family let me do storytime at home. A tuesday or a saturday without storytime just wouldn't feel right. I take storytime seriously and it really hurt that no one came. Well, technically six kids came but no one stayed. I take my job seriously and part of my job is entertaining and when I'm not able to do that then I take it really really hard. And my wife understands all that. I love her so much. I love her for letting me do storytime at home. That really rocked. It was my best storytime ever.


It's now almost 11pm. I'm on the net and drinking my Labatt and she's rocking whiskey and coke. And I still feel upset about storytime but I feel great now that I did storytime at home. Or maybe that's the Labatt talking.


By the way, I got the first picture from this post by typing "panda sex" into google images. And on page four of the panda sex results is a picture of Vin Diesl. Why, you ask? It's my theory that his birth is the result of sexual activity between a human and a panda. If that's untrue, then prove me wrong!


Or, again, maybe that's the Labatt talking.

7 comments:

Marisa said...

Fucking hell.

jessecoombs said...

Fuckers. Do you see why I want to leave this town?

dr. gonzo said...

wow. what a bunch of bullshit.

Gregorio said...

once again... people are morons.

and i totally forgot about that gay porn... ah, the good ol days.

Sorceress Jade said...

First, Vin is not a panda!!!

Second. Well I'm not sure what to say for second, but I'm sorry to hear you had to go through that. On the other hand, kudo's to your family. All of you together are the awesomest family ever. Reading about how you all support each other so well, and are so... well functional actually. It's refreshing. You guys function better than 90% of American and it's just sort of startling to know you.

Reverend Steve said...

Sounds like someone is in denial over the fact that actor Vin Diesl is half panda.

Wake up and see the truth! He's bald because if he let his hair grow out it would be a shaggy pelt of black and white FUR!

kerryh said...

Maybe I missed something, but I don't really see how this is racist. It actually sounds more like gender bias.

Sounds like you're lucky to have such a supportive/great family to back you up!