I made the long journey from Oregon to Montana yesterday.
In Oregon, you can’t pump your own gas. In my RV, you have to open the driver’s door in order to open the gas tank. This usually means that I spend the next few minutes answering questions about mileage, my tires or my destination. Every once in a while, I get to dig into the life of the person standing in the rain who deals with people all day.
Yesterday it was a man who happens to work part-time at a gas station, happens to be black and happens to be work full-time as a fireman. He told me about a woman who threw out the comment, “You’re probably a convicted felon…” as flippant as a statement about the weather. As my face grew hot with disgust and rage and shame, I asked him how he responded.
“I told her they don’t hire convicted felons.” He turned to me and smiled as I waited for more. But clearly that was it. I raised my eyebrows and nodded with respect. “Way to rise above, ” I said.
“The ignorance just keeps growing…” he said, shaking his head. My tank was full and he had to move on to more customers whom I hoped were more kind and less ignorant than the one he described. He wished me safe travels home and I left that small town in which I was born. That small town filled with family I love and memories that warm my heart. The old phrase from college fills my head again:
Quash the ignorant with enlightenment. STAT.