“Reconcile yourself to this wilderness.” ~ Zane Grey “Wildfire.”
Him: “Where you frum, bruh?”
I answer ambiguously…
Him: “Oh…? Das wha’s up? Yo…you watch tha game las’ night?”
Me: …long sigh…exhales smoke…
Him (paraphrase): “That one group of negro lads really stuck it to that other group of negro lads! Tee hee!”
Me: non-committal grunt. I stare off to the distance, studying the coming day’s work.
Him: “Oh, you not into football. You know what? Imma get me that new [insert popular vehicle of the month].”
Me: “…they’ve got a good transmission, I hear.”
Him, rails about it for 10 min, after which: “yo…you see dat Georgia honey at the gas pump?!”
Me (inner thought): “In a Christian world, you’d be lynched for speaking about a white lady like that.” Out loud: “…meh, I wouldn’t marry her.”
Him: …awkward silence.
Just then, our archetypical baby-boomer boss emerges from his office intent on offering us his daily sermon. He drones on about how we ought not read the Bible. “Never read it! Don’t do it! You’re not smart enough to understand it! You need to get you a study-guide and learn from commentators first. I highly recommend a man named Rick Warren and his book ‘Purpose Driven Life.’ That man’s a genius. I have two college degrees and 20 years experience, but I still submit to everything he says.”
After his sermon, he turns us over to the grizzled old, ex-marine, foreman, who with a slight eye-roll (not enough to be disrespectful), hands out our marching orders for the day. He’s mentally segregated the bunch, the hard-working white boys from the unwieldy minorities who’re liable to get someone injured or killed.
Foreman: “You, you, and you…you’re with me today. Those of you working inside, head on in. The rest of you are on cleanup.”
At this point in the narrative, the group is broken up and I’m corralled with the white every man:
WEM1: I’m world-savvy, a gambler, with metropolitan street-smarts and many negro friends.
WEM2: I’m left-leaning, a friend to every minority, and here’s my life story and all my future plans in intimate detail…
Me: “…ya’ll talk too much.”