Today I’ve been accused of stealing.
I supposed to be viewing a house this morning, but I have difficulties falling asleep lately so I didn’t make the appointment. I made another one though the week after March 09. It is the day I have to go to the ophthalmologist. I reckon if I can combine the two since I have to be awake anyway at 10 a.m. then there is no reason why I can’t see the house.
I woke up around 1:00 p.m. with a major headache but it was a very good weather. Cold but the sun was shining like there is no tomorrow and the grass are turning green again. In pictures people would probably think it’s high summer. I didn’t want to miss the rare opportunity so I dragged myself in bath, had a long soak and ended with a cold shower to shake my aching muscles awake.
In the car already I feel there was something wrong (I can usually predict these sort of things) and had to do something about it. But the funny thing about premonition is you can neither pinpoint which side the disaster is going to come from nor you can guess the combination of the winning numbers in the national lottery. I ask myself sometimes what is the use of this gift if you are not able to make it work to your advantage.
Weekend is a tough day to find a parking spot in the city so I decided to put my car in the parking lot of a clothing shop where a garden center used to be and since I’m there already why not take a look inside since I never been in that branch yet. So far so good.
I was enjoying browsing the quite substantial offers on display when I saw a beautiful soft leather bag on the floor next to a row of shoes at the foot of a mannequin. I was not wearing my glasses so I stepped closer and leaned over to scrutinize the item. Reading the brand name stenciled on the front of the bag I was a bit surprise that they are selling it there because to my knowledge it is a bit exclusive. I noticed that there were various items poking out inside the bag and I suddenly realized that it was belong to someone so I looked around and saw two women. One on my left few rows away and another on my right on the front of the fitting mirror. She was closer to me so I asked her: “Is this yours?” That was when all the hell breaks loose. She accused me of trying to steal her bag.
The row escalated and for the first time in my life I was shouting which was very uncharacteristic of me because normally the more I get angry the stiller my voice becomes. But the woman was beyond reproach and insisting in her hoity-toity voice that I was really trying to steal her bag. I told her if I was trying to steal her belongings would I asked her if the bag was hers? She said: but you almost took it. That means I didn’t even touch the damn thing how she can say with conviction that I was trying to steal it? Stupid person.
In the end the cashier came and tried to calm us down (me in particular) hubby came to the rescue and the woman backed out saying she was polite despite of the circumstances. I wanted to ask her if she would react the way she reacted if I am not colored, but the cashier came between us and said it just a misunderstanding. I want to fight more but she retreated to another aisle. I heard her talking to someone behind my back so I walked to her to set the score right but they quickly walked away.
Paying my purchases the cashier apologized for what happened (I feel that it was the woman who has to apologize) and said it was really a misunderstanding. I wonder if she said that too to the other woman to keep the peace but it seemed she meant it so I let it go.
Living almost thirty years in this county this is the first time it happened to me. It shook my foundation to the core. I realized for the first time the seriousness of my situation. Because I am living here a lot longer than in my birth country, I tend to forget that no matter what I do, I will never be one of them. To their eyes I will always be a second class citizen.
All of a sudden, those times when I came into the upmarket shops and the salesperson looked at me as if I have no right to be there, entering ritzy restaurants and being sized up, the way people look at me with contempt when I step out of my car (Gran Turismo BMW 2015 model) or learned that until this year we had two houses and currently living in a villa, those awkward moments when people have spoken to me in broken English as if I’m a demented 3 years old came crashing down like a tidal wave and it makes me sick, realizing that I look like a thief or someone capable of such act out of need or want. That I don’t have to deceive myself thinking I belong here and as good as anyone of them. It’s terrifying to know that it can happen again and again and I can’t do nothing about it.
To these people, I’m labelled. I will always be the stranger, the foreigner, the colored one, the intruder. I cannot be good enough no matter how hard I try. They tolerate my presence but watching me like a hawk waiting for the moment that I make even the slightest mistake to swoop down and attach me to my tag justifying their prejudices whether the accusations are true or not. To them I’m just a charity case. Allowed up to a certain point. And no matter what it says on my passport I will never be a true citizen of this country unless I can change the color of my skin…