Check, please!


When I was working full time in Real Estate, during the recent crash of the housing market, a fellow Realtor said to me “Business must be really good. It doesn’t look like the market hurt you.” She said this as I climbed out of my new truck. She was being sarcastic. I continued to retrieve files from my back seat and without hesitation, I responded “No. I just got a new Sugar Daddy.” I closed the door and walked off. She stood there, mouth agape, eyes wide, heart pounding.

I had checked her. Never again would she make an assumption about my finances and even though I lied-she got the point.

I learned the art of checking my first semester in college. Every time I saw a particular girl on campus, she would make a comment about my skin color. “White girls shouldn’t wear peach shirts” or “Do you know this dance white girl?” It irritated me. I had been used to being called out about my pigment but every day from the same person was a bit much. One day in response to “hey white girl” I said “hey darkie”. She never said anything in reference to my complexion again.

I checked her.

From that moment on, I checked everyone. I stopped accepting what I had learned to expect and began checking. Throughout the years I perfected the craft of checking and the rules of the art:

First-you have to be quick with the comeback. Some people are naturally witty. If you are not one of these, attempting to check someone may prove to be a difficult task when you’re at a lost for words.

Second-once the moment has passed, it’s gone. There is about a three second window of opportunity to respond and you cannot after that time is over.  There’s nothing more pathetic than a comeback five minutes into the next conversation.

Third-make your statement and move on. Don’t offer any room for commentary or follow-up. Walk away, change the subject, or completely dismiss that the person is there by turning away.

One. Two. Three. That’s how I did it. I say did because recently, I was caught by a statement that left me speechless. While enjoying a bottle of wine with some friends, we began discussing my work. One of the guest turned to me and with furrowed brow said “You’re not black enough to work there.” I was stunned. I did not check her.

Fourth-If you let the opportunity to check pass, it will haunt you.

I want to go back to that moment. I want to show her the ignorance, stereotype, stupidity in her statement. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I knew that it wouldn’t make a difference. Maybe a history of being told I’m “too white” resurfaced as a belief. Maybe I would have slapped the hell out of her.

A few weeks later, I missed another moment and now I see that just as I found strength in that moment in 1996, I’ve found weakness in that moment in 2010. I’ve got to refocus because if I don’t check the college freshman, the housewife, the coworker…their ignorance prevails.

I’m not looking for the chance to prove I still got it, but don’t give me a reason to right now. 😉

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8 thoughts on “Check, please!

  1. This brings to mind a check time for me (memory);”Can I rub your stomach?”she asked “Only if I can rub yours!” I replied….. That felt GREAT cause I was super annoyed! Lol

  2. Hey Shannon. love this! I’ve been checked, checked a few people, and missed a few times to check people. And you’re right, the ones you don’t check are the ones that haunt you. I’ve said things that were out of order and afterwards I was like, “Why did I say that, that was so……stupid”. lol. Good post!

  3. Thanks for inviting me into your electronic world. It is an uncomfortable place for me because I have always enjoyed getting to know people who wanted to take a chance on knowing me.

    I found your “checking” interesting and more than I am going to elaborate on, but the compelling question is don’t we “check” most people who attempt to connect to us? Isn’t the fear of being “judged” a compelling reason to “check” others although we are always judging others?

    I have been “checked” by others fearing that I have or would “judge” them and I have judged them as they have also done to me (we can’t not judge), but with a deep desire to connect and the judgement is that they are special in my sight and I find no fault in them that woud prohibit a meaningful relationship as defined by both parties.

    All of life has two sides and “checking” others does create “the other” and keeps us safe, yet excludes those who would have enhanced our lives if given the smallest chance.

  4. HA! Thanks for the tip cousin! One-two-three, I got it! And will use it! Angela and Monica told me about that time yall were young and that lady came at you wrong in the grocery store. “What are you?” “What are YOU?!!” Love ya.

    • Wow. You’re right! I guess I’ve been “checking” since as long as I can remember. I still cringe everytime someone asks me ‘What are you?’…but we’ll save that for a later post. 😉

  5. Shannon, this is an amazing, thought-provoking post! It’s unbelievable how ignorant people can be – and I LOVE that you are so good at “checking”!!! I only WISH that I was that QUICK!!! Everyone who reads this post should stand back and take a minute to THINK! What have you said to someone you’ve encountered which may have been out of line???

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