by phil on Tuesday Mar 3, 2009 1:10 PM
my life in fiction style, race better-than-middleness
I had the exterior of my car detailed today. The day before, a friendly, thirty-something white man gave me a demo of how a rotating buffer could remove the orange spots on my car panels. He told me to bring in my car the next day and that they'd take care of the whole thing. So I came back, left my car, and got some coffee. When I came back to the detailer, I found a old, thin, black man using a rag to take out the spots. I approached him, puzzled because it wasn't the same guy as yesterday, and also because he wasn't using the rotating buffer used in the demo. The man didn't make eye contact as I approached, which increased my skepticism, which reinforced his quietude. I had a brief conversation with him. He simply said, "Hi, I'm Magic, and I'll be taking care of your car." He looked like he didn't want to be bothered, and so then I walked away with a WTF expression on my face.
I came back an hour later to find my car looking brand-spanking new. All the spots were gone and I could see my reflection in the panels. Magic was very friendly. He gave me a tour of my car and told me I could come directly to him, any time. He then pointed out, "see how well I did the inside of your car." I peeked inside and indeed, everything was spit-shine clean and smooth. I was very grateful and gave him a good tip.
Then, as I sat down in the driver's seat, I noticed in the corner of my eye the words "The Segregated South" in large type. "Oh," I thought to myself. The words were written on the back of a book sitting in my door pocket. It was a book I had recently checked out at the library. The name of the book was "Black Like Me."
And that's how this one post on kottke trickled down into my life..