This evening as I rode the Max home, I was nursing the beginning of a sinus headache. I’m allergic to mold, so I’m not sure what caused the headache but there it was.
At Lloyd Center (which, coincidentally or maybe not so coincidentally) a man got on the train with a big bunch of incense sticks in his hand. He was selling them, he explained, on behalf of some anti-gang ministry. He was a very pleasant man. He was polite and friendly and chatted with all the people who turned him down.
His incense sticks smelled so strongly they turned the beginning of a sinus headache into a full blown migraine. I don’t get migraines. I just get sinus headaches that mimic them. So to block the scent from getting to me any further, I stuck my head deeply into the magazine I was reading. When that didn’t help I held my nose and breathed through my mouth. My eyes watered but it helped.
The guy was very nice about it. He saw that I was suffering and he moved away from me. He even said, “Oh, you can’t have any of this, can you? I’m sorry, Miss, I’ll move away. God bless you.” Which I thought was delightful and I smiled.
The woman sitting across the aisle from me bought a lot of his incense. Sigh!
After he had gone to the front of the train car (leaving the godsawful scent behind) the woman across the aisle turned to me and said, “Was it really necessary for you to be so rude to him?”
I said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t buy anything from him but I get the worst headaches from that kind of incense.”
“Because he's a man of color?” she asked, all pompous and self-righteous. “Would it have been a problem if he'd been white? And clean cut? And middle class? I think not!" (She may not have sounded so speechified but at the time it felt that way.)
I was lucky because there were other people sitting nearby who had my back. One guy, an old guy with one of those "you stinking kids get off my lawn" looks on his face, said, “Lady, that’s pretty damn strong incense. I gave the guy a buck but I’m not going to buy his incense. Some of us don’t like it and some actually are allergic to it.”
The self-righteous woman said, “Whatever!” and moved to another part of the train. The woman sitting behind me offered a couple of aspirins (I had nothing to take them with, sadly.)
I’m in a fragile enough mood because of this stinking headache. The headache that started before any of this took place. I really did not need someone accusing me of racism because I had a headache. I was on the verge of tears. But I maintained because a guy I misjudged turned out to be so nice.
There, I’ve bitched and now I feel better. Hope your day went better.