Monday afternoon, I was manning the flower shop by myself when I received a phone call that was a wrong number. This isn't unusual, as our shop seems to have a phone number close to that of some sort of licensing office. The man on the other end of the line ignored my initial greeting and went directly into a rant about what happened the last time he attempted to call this office. In my usual kind tone, I explained "I'm sorry, you must have the wrong number, this is a flower shop," while snipping the thorns from some roses. Instead of apologizing, as most folks do when they realize they've misdialed, this particular caller responded with an angry exclamation that included The N Word, then immediately hung up on me.
I'm a fan of expletives in general. There's an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants where he and Patrick find cuss words written on a dumpster and begin using them, calling them "sentence enhancers," and I love that description. I'm a writer, I love words and language and I don't think there should be "bad" words. There's a time and place for everything, even The F Word. However, I also believe words can be misused and that hate speech is a serious issue that exists in our society.
I'm not easily offended, and I believe everyone has a right to their opinion. It takes a lot to shock me but with all that being said, this man shocked me. I mean, mouth hanging open, dumb founded, flabbergasted. I stood there holding the phone listening to the dial tone in absolute awe. I could not believe what I'd just heard.
After I hung up the phone and regained my composure, I considered using Caller ID to call the man back. If it had been my personal phone and not my work place, I probably would have. (Although the next day my boss said "You can call him back right now if you want to, I don't care. That's not acceptable.") I didn't want to scold the man or insult him, I simply wanted to ask Why? Or more accurately, I wanted to say "Seriously? Five days after the Charleston shooting, and during an especially racially charged climate in our country, you want to use that word with a stranger? What exactly do you think you're contributing to society by talking this way?"
I've been thinking about that man all week, my faith in humanity a bit bruised. With all the horrific devastation in the news lately, I like to think that people are carrying on their day to day lives taking particular care to practice kindness and gratitude. I know I sure am. But I bet that guy hasn't thought about me for one second. He was just pissed that he was told to press 7 and when he did, he got disconnected.
This morning when I heard the news that the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage, I turned to my husband and said "Well, I'm glad to see that this can happen in our country, even if people are still using The N Word, " and we both laughed because really, you have to.
I still can't believe that in the year 2015, in The United States of America, anyone has to fight to be considered equal. We are all the same. I don't care what color your skin is or who you like to have sex with. I simply cannot understand why anyone who wants to get married should be denied that. I don't want to go into a political rant here, that's not my style. In fact, I'm not a political person at all. I'm not a religious person at all. I'm a person who believes in fairness and love. It doesn't seem complicated.
Over the years, a few people in my life have tried to encourage me to change my blog title. More than a few people in my life are not exactly fans of following the rules. "Break some rules," they plead. And yes, I suppose we all do it from time to time. But I won't change the title of my blog because those are two huge fundamental parts of who I am.
Dave Matthews Band has an album called "Remember Two Things," and while I don't know what exactly that title refers to, I like to think it is along the same lines as what I find important in life. I guess it actually can be boiled down to one thing, which is simply: Be Kind. If you do that and you follow the general guidelines of being a considerate human being (even if you occasionally break a rule,) you should be okay.