Something I Said /MN Spokesman-Recorder
by Dwight Hobbes
Next time you’re on the city bus, leafing through the job ads, already on your way to the first of your interviews for the day and armed with several copies of your résumé, forcing yourself to buck up with a can-do attitude, take a look around. Don’t stare — just casually scan the rest of the passengers.
No matter how daunting you can’t help but find the grind of looking for work in today’s supposedly stimulus-improved economic climate, I will just about practically guarantee you that right there, rolling down the road with you, is plenty good reason to take at least a little bit of heart.
In the back, maybe, sprawled on a seat, wearing an oversized jacket that could double as a parachute, you’ve got some knucklehead who walked on in a loping, shoulder-shrugging strut with his pants practically at half-mast (as if the world needs to see what color drawers he’s got on). He’s either reciting some Neanderthal rap he’s listening to on headphones or making up his own self-glorifying gibberish laced with epithets, chockfull of vulgarity, and loaded with obnoxious reference to females.
At some point he’s going to be on his cell phone, loud and profane, punctuating almost every comment with something that rhymes with either the words “other trucker” or the word “rigger.” Let’s call him, for the sake of argument, Homeboy.
You’ve also got…let’s call her Laquishaluluwalablingbling. More weave than a spinner’s loom, nails long enough to stab somebody with, and, despite her exotic sounding name that’s supposed to give her cultural class, she acts and talks ignorant as the day is long.
Chomping and popping chewing gum like a cow working her cud, she mangles the English language with double negatives and turns the air just as blue as does Homeboy. In fact, were obscenities and just plain foul language in general suddenly somehow removed from the face of the earth, they’d both be struck virtually mute.
If you say a single thing to either one of these fellow bus riders about their awful attitude and all but animalistic behavior, you’ll get summarily cussed out and accused of telling them they should act White. As if behaving like you’re on so much as a nodding acquaintance with civilized conduct indelibly marks you a race traitor.
You see these characters all the time, doing their damnedest to live up to the worst possible stereotype of Black people there is to imagine. They are, in a word, uncouth, and happy as hell to stay that way.
They have marginalized themselves miles out of the job market. Employers wouldn’t go near them with a 10-foot pole, let alone hire one of them to do a job that calls for conducting himself or herself with so much as a mere modicum of professionalism. Fierce as the current competition for employment is, just think how much fiercer it’d be if these folk were willing to act like they had some sense and actually get a life.
If you think it’s hard finding a job now, imagine how hard it’d be if they got their program together and were applying for the same position you’re after: if Homeboy was to pull his britches up over his behind and figure out that speaking respectfully to someone doesn’t make you a punk; if Laquisha-girl would stop dressing like she’s auditioning for Ringling Bros., learn at least serviceable grammar, and speak in decibels that don’t compete with a jet engine.
Bad as the odds presently are against you, you then would truly be s.o.l. So, next time you’re on the bus and backward folk get to, as we used to say, showin’ their color, no need to suck your teeth, roll your eyes, or otherwise get annoyed.
Just think, “There, but for the grace of couth, go I.” And take heart, job seeker, take heart.
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