As I’ve said before, my wife and I aren’t racists. No elements in our home are intended to convey such an impression either. But try telling that to the African-American plumber who visited us today.
I’d called the plumber due to a leaky bathroom sink. An older gentleman, he seemed far more attuned to racial overtones than younger blacks who may not have experienced blatant bigotry firsthand. At least, that’s the impression I drew in the minutes before the irate tradesman stormed from our abode. He certainly had a lot to say during his brief stay, lecturing me on symbols of hatred (like swastikas, confederate flags and burning crosses) and old-time signs of segregation in restaurants, public pools and other places.
Before he departed, I tried to tell him that not every symbol and sign evidences racism. Here, for instance, I’m guilty of nothing more than an inability to do a proper load of laundry. Two weeks earlier, I’d accidentally bleached and shrunk Sophia’s favorite blouse. Due to the botched job, she’d imposed strict restrictions on my use of our laundry room. Specifically, she forbid me from ever again attempting to wash or dry any clothing containing even a hint of color.
The plumber didn’t buy my explanation though. As he made clear before bidding me an unfriendly adieu — without fixing our sink, I might add — a man trusts his eyes more than his ears; and his eyes told him he’d entered a den of haters. I might’ve agreed with him in principle under other circumstances. In this case, however, I’m certain Sophia only meant to remind me of my limited washer and dryer privileges. I’m sure she didn’t intend to preclude the plumber or any other African-American from entering our laundry room, when she decorated its door with a “Whites Only” sign.