The Stranger

*knock knock knock*

I wonder who that could be… I’m not expecting anybody… Gosh, I hope it isn’t my landlord to show the place, everything is a mess right now…

I leave my dinner prep and walk to the door. I glace through the peephole and see a man I don’t recognize. Uh oh, I wonder if something is wrong downstairs or if I’m walking around too loud. I open the door about a foot and peer out.

“Hello?” I say in a friendly, yet questioning tone.

He looks slightly confused and says, “Oh, hi, I’m here to see Eric.” (I already forgot the actual name he said.)

“Uhh, sorry,” I say, as we simultaneously realize he is at the wrong door and a look of embarrassment comes over his face. “I’m not sure who Eric is.” I wish I knew who that was so I could direct him to the correct apartment… Should I suggest the one at the bottom of the stairs?

“Jesus Christ,” he mutters as he fumbles for his phone in his pocket, clearly trying find the message with the correct apartment number. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no problem at all,” I say cheerily as I close the door and return to my cooking.

I hope he finds his friend. Man, I really should have met my neighbors and learned their names.  It’s definitely too late to do that here, but I really want to make an effort at our next apartment building.

As I stir the vegetables in the pan, my mind continues on.

Oh jeez I hope I didn’t offend him or anything by only opening the door up a foot… It was only because he was a stranger… I would have been timid opening the door for any stranger… Maybe less hesitant with a woman, but all unexpected men would make me tentative… But I hope he didn’t think it was because he was black.  I would hate to have just unintentionally played into any racial insecurities he might have.  Hmm…I wonder if me thinking that he might have been offended is considered racist? Or thinking that he might have insecurities?  Was me thinking that his friends might be the black people living in the apartment at the bottom of the stairs racist? I mean, I didn’t want to assume that, but they have a lot of visitors and most of the other people have moved out for the summer… But the fact that I didn’t suggest that he look at that apartment… was that a good thing? Or did that just mean I wasn’t being helpful? No… probably better I didn’t say anything.  He just seemed so flustered, I wish I could have helped. 

Is this a helpful internal dialogue?  To question my reasons for doing this and how they may or may not have impacted others?  Is doing this going to make me more aware and sensitive or just more likely to overthink things and make them awkward?  I genuinely want to be aware of other people’s feelings and reactions, but I am also aware I can’t control those.  I want to be sensitive without tiptoeing.  For a long time I just did my best to ignore color and race… to view everyone as the same.  But in Gardner’s class we learned that that is basically erasure, which isn’t beneficial either.  So I should recognize race and the potential for prejudice, and then… what?  Also, I know there’s a difference between racist and…what’s the other term… racial?  I need to read more about this.  Maybe the blog world could have some helpful input…

 

 

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The Stranger

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