Dear Black Man at Gas Station,

twilightinstaIt was dawn, and I was alone. Alone until you were there, suddenly, at my shoulder.

You passed by me so close, I saw your shadow. I smelled your soap. You were simply walking between the pumps after paying inside, and I know you saw me flinch.  A suburban, cocooned, white flinch.

I know you did.

You smiled and said, “Guess we’re the only fools out at this hour.”

“Looks like it,” I replied.

I took a bag of trash out of my car.

“Time to clean up? I need to do that, too,” you said, still smiling.

“I needed to do it about a month ago,” I confessed.

This is what it’s like, I thought. You felt a need to represent.  To change perceptions.  To keep me from flinching again.

We wished each other a happy new year.

And you drove away, in your shiny new black Lexus, leaving me there in my dirty white used Acura.


White Woman