Friday, August 4, 2017

Those People

At the doctor's office. The doctor's assistant brings me down the hall, weighs me, takes my temperature, blood pressure, notes them in my chart. She sees I need an EKG, gets me set up, performs the test with a good-natured efficiency. I'm getting pre-op tests because I will be having tubes put in my ears to help with mild hearing loss.

"In my other job I clean offices at night," she says. "And I once sucked up one of those really expensive hearing aids with the vacuum and I was worried whether it would still work after that!"

We chatted about hearing aids, and how they were expensive, and how I was hoping not to go down that road quite yet. And then I was done and the doctor came in to complete the exam.

I haven't stopped thinking about that warm and capable assistant/technician who breezed through all the medical procedures with friendliness and expertise and who spends her evening cleaning offices.

I don't know anything else. I don't know the backstory. It could be happy, it could be sad.

But there's an awful lot of judgement these days about how "those people" deserve no sympathy because "they" don't want to work, "they're" lazy, "they" want free handouts. On the other hand, pundits tell us time and again we should really care about the plight of the "working class."

Does the concept of the working class and the respectability of their labor belong only to whites? I see a qualified employee in my doctor' office with excellent bedside manner who works nights cleaning offices and I want to know why her opinion is not considered valuable to the national discourse. Why isn't her life important, her work valuable, her voice meaningful?

Yes, I have invested in this one woman quite a bit of significance. But I am mightily tired of coded language that is meant to convey that the beauty of the American dream is meant only for some, that those who are brown, or tan, or "foreign" or whose religion is "dangerous" do not deserve respect or basic human kindness. Or basic human rights.

Perhaps if one's mind is poisoned by hate and one's heart is marred by ugliness, then everything one sees fulfills those expectations.

I don't want to be one of those people.

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