Wondering While Wandering: Tripping in LA? – Part Two:
Okay, so it was the wife. Upon seeing this vivacious young woman with me the wife looked as if she was holding her breath and couldn’t find her way to exhaling until I introduced Tamarah as my goddaughter. Not once did she say anything rude, and she wouldn’t, because she doesn’t roll like that. However, that is all the more reason why this story is somewhat profound in its simplicity as well as simplistic in its profundity. There is no secret formula that transforms good people into jingoists, sexists, racists, homophobes, etc. If there is a prototype of the type of person who will say and or do socially unjust things it is the person who has not had much experience being immersed in conversations that engage otherness. That description fits most of us. In an ever changing world where we will face so many different people those of us that want to represent our selves best to everyone we meet pursue opportunities to engage caring people outside of our comfort zones as an excellent opportunity for growth. I could understand the concern that someone might have about the corruption of our youth. I teach Philosophy and have started every ethics class I have ever taught with a discussion about Socrates being condemned to die for allegedly “corrupting the youth.” It is a serious offense and still is a significant concern in our society, as it should be. But is it so serious that we predetermine behavior before tangible evidence has been made available?
I haven’t even gotten to what was the true motivation for this blog posting. So, Angel and I are sitting in our seats, “straight up chillin.” We are talking about life, family, school, career/life aspirations, and yes, how unbelievably “off the charts” my seats are. Now, not to boast, but to give you some insight into how Angel and I mentor one another (without giving you too much detail about the intricacies of me and my little brother), I shared with Angel how I just took the time to build a relationship with the tournament director over the years of having a phone conversation regarding improved seats. I had consistently called trying to improve my seating. A respect grew out of those conversations and subsequently when they opened up a new row of seating around the stadium in an effort to be more accommodating with wheel chair accessibility, they inserted/created Row AA, and I was offered the opportunity to have two of what are essentially floor seats. So, I also share with Angel, after his response to the fact that we are sitting on the floor of the stadium and can practically and literally lean forward and touch the athletes on their back if we choose to do so, that the seats really came out of two people (the tournament director and I) finding a nice rhythm in our conversations, because we both wanted to achieve it. To this day I have never met the tournament director.
Anyway, Angel and I are rapping and all of a sudden a man and his three little children approach us and the man says “Excuse me, you are in our seats!” I look at the man and somewhat pensively respond by saying simply “No, you are mistaken!” I then turn back around prepared to further my conversation with Angel, when I am interrupted again by the man with a reassertion that he is right. Appearing irritated that he has to reassert himself he says “Are you sure those are your seats?” I turn once again and say to him “Believe me, more sure than you are! You may want to discuss this with an usher.” He then turns to greet an usher who spies the situation and decides to get involved. When he realizes that he is in the wrong section, he says “Oh!” and then moves on to the correct seats without any apparent after thought or acknowledgment of his assumption of correctness.
What is your take, your analysis on why I was approached in this fashion? Was there anything wrong with his approach, or my response? Does the incident take on more significance, or a different significance, when I tell you that the man was White and that Angel and I both appear Black (Angel, who actually is a dark skinned Latino from the Dominican Republic with a fairly large Afro perhaps even more than me). It might also assist you to know that I have had this happen almost every year to me, and had it reported to me by various friends I have shared the tickets with from time to time. It might also help you to know that there aren’t a great many underrepresented people who appear to own box seats to this tennis tournament and I haven’t seen anyone else sitting on the floor. While my guests and I are already prepared for a certain amount of scrutiny, with people wondering who we are to have such sought after seats, it is further exacerbated by the casual conversation with other box seat holders who aren’t good at cloaking their curiosity in knowing what I do for a living (that allows me to afford these tickets).
So tell me, if you wonder about these wanderings, what are your thoughts? Was I tripping or was anyone tripping during my trip in L.A.?