The preface for this is that I was running out of a prescription. I called my pharmacy and they advised that they had not heard back from the prescribing doctor and perhaps I should contact the doctor, to move forward the refill. And so I called….
The receptionist, at the doctor’s office, that answered, advised that indeed, their facsimile machine and emails were giving issues and that requests were not coming forward and so if I provided my information, she could move the request forward.
From speaking to the receptionist on the phone, the voice sounded like she was someone in her late 50’s, 60’s, Caucasian and was a pleasant and friendly person, who liked to engage with people.
And so when I provided her my first name, she complimented me on it and said that it was lovely, to which I responded thank you.
And then I provided her my obviously South Asian last name, to which she responded, “that’s just awful”……….
(pause – how to react? Think this through…)
If I ask her what she meant by that comment, do I jeopardize getting my prescription filled, which I need? Do I just let it slide? How can I comment back in a polite way that will make her understand how WRONG her comment was, on many levels? Will she understand the point that I am making? Will me pointing out the ignorance of her comment cause her to change….will it make a difference?
This is the thought process and problem solving analysis that is undertaken everyday by non-white people. And yes…even in 2020, even with all of social media and news media trying to get people to account for diversity and inclusion – with a lot of people, it is just noise. And apparently, I was speaking to someone who was just not listening to the change in the world around her and adapting. Probably – because she does not have to. At the clinic where she works, the majority of doctors are Caucasian. And others like me, who have encountered her special type of racism, have probably just brushed her comments aside, so that they could book an appointment, get a refill etc….
And I wish I could say that I challenged her. I wish I could say that she heard me, apologized and I still got my prescription filled. But after I did my analysis, I decided that getting my refill and moving this process forward, was more of a priority for me and that I did not have time that day, to educate.
I often do take the time to educate or address uncomfortable moments and comments, but that was not my day. Trust me – it gets tiring…..”are you Hindi and do you speak Hindu” type comments occur frequently and most days, I have the fight. But every so often, you don’t and she happened to come across me on one of those days.
And she is not alone. There are many more “people” like her, that populate the space around me, Canada and especially, our neighbours to the South in the United States of America.
And so when we wonder why the margin is so close leading up to the US election, know that a lot of the Trump supporters are a lot like this “person” I dealt with and they are not changing their ways. They know what they know, consider themselves “good people” and do not mean to be racist but just are. And they continue to occupy spaces that affect others, and so people toe the line, so as not to “move to the back of the line” in the process, that is controlled by this person.
And no surprise…I was notified by the pharmacy the next day, that my prescription was ready. And so I reached my end goal. And for this woman, she continues through her life, believing that she helps people and that she is a good person because she helped me get my prescription filled. But she is also a racist person and that too is a reality. The two are not mutually exclusive.
But I hope that some day, someone or something causes her to question how she operates in this realm of her life and …….the rest is up to her. I hope that she starts “listening”. Because there is plenty to hear!
But that’s just one Diva’s view.