So I went to the old folks’ home to visit, because one of my white relatives is being moved to intermediate care. This is a different wing of the complex. I had just talked to another relative, so I knew the general direction to walk. There was a reception desk along the way, so I stopped there to ask a question.
The white woman sitting there didn’t look up at me. And then the phone rang, so she answered the phone. She then engaged in a lengthy telephone conversation, never once glancing up. I knew she was intent on ignoring me when she said, “No, I have the e-mail right here,” called up her e-mail program on the computer and began reading aloud the contents of the e-mail. It was very obvious that she was talking with a work colleague.
So I walked away.
It is apparently not acceptable for a person of color to walk away from a white person, although it is perfectly acceptable for a white person to ignore a person of color for an extended period of time.
Because she freaked.
She dropped the phone on her desk with a loud clunk and bolted to her feet, yelling, “Where are you going?” I said that I was visiting a resident. She was visibly agitated and said that I had to sign in first. But I noticed that when I approached the desk she backed away and stood out of reach behind her chair.
Next time I’m going to just keep walking.