Okay, readers, I need feedback. No, really this topic is a doozy and I genuinely want to hear opinions. So, I’m at the post office mailing a couple of boxes. There’s a 20 minute line. No big deal. I knew it would be like that because we are a week from Christmas. I had a full battery on my phone and I was set to scroll Insta, Facebook and the news then I feel a presence behind me – REALLY close – like not even 12 inches off my person. I look over my left shoulder and it’s another lady. She is as they say “not from around here”. I won’t divulge her nationality just yet but suffice it to say English was probably not her first language. More on that later. Then a few minutes later Sing Song Mommy comes in with her 3 – 4 year old child. Sing Song Mommy you ask? Oh, you know the type. She talks in a very loud, high, sing song voice and refuses to give the child a direct command. It’s more like this, “Oh sweetie please don’t roll on the ground it’s so yucky.” All the while using the weirdly cheery, loud, high pitched sing song voice. Of course, the kid knows this woman lacks all manner of backbone and does whatever the hell it wants but I digress.
So, Sing Song Mommy and her child are probably driving the poor lady behind me crazy because she’s practically asking for a piggyback ride she is so close. I try to ignore it all and find my zen. Then too close lady starts getting phone calls. She’s so close I can hear her phone vibrate. She takes out her phone, answers it in a foreign language, talks for under a minute and hangs up. This happens at least 6 times in about a span of 6 minutes. She is starting to get agitated. You can hear it in her tone of voice even though I can’t understand what’s she’s saying. Hell, I’d be agitated too if someone was calling me that much. And, this is where it all gets dicey.
Up in my personal space gets yet another call. It lasts only a couple of seconds. She hung up, tossed the package she had been holding onto the little waiting area counter and sprinted out the door. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t motion for me or Sing Song Mommy to hold her spot. We are talking NOTHING. She just bolts. I looked back at Sing Song who looked just as bewildered as I looked and then it hit me. The lady left her package behind. Unattended baggage. Agitated and shifty behavior. I briefly thought to myself should I yell bomb and run or cover my head? And, then I thought but I’m next in line and I’ve waited freaking 20 minutes – like that would have helped had it been a bomb. No sooner had I completed all these thoughts did two things happen. Too close came sprinting back inside and got back in her place in line acting as if nothing weird happened and I was called to the desk to take care of my packages. The postal worker said nothing about the lady sprinting out and back. She said nothing about the package being left unattended. Postal service lady said nothing except ground was the same price as priority mail. The whole thing was never acknowledged. I paid the postage and walked out.
Now, what I want to know is what would you have done? Would you have yelled bomb and ducked for cover or ran out out the door? Would you have just kinda puzzled it all out and done what I did? Would the way the woman was dressed have anything to do with your reaction? The reason I ask is that the woman in question was of Middle Eastern descent and was wearing a hijab. My suburb has a very large Middle Eastern and Indian community. It is a common everyday occurrence to see Sikh turbans, hijabs, and saris. It’s very common to hear other languages besides English. No one blinks an eye at any of this. Yet, I’m not going to lie I was totally unnerved when the woman left her package and ran out the door. I’d like to think I was unnerved because of the woman’s sketchy and suspicious behavior and not because she was wearing a hijab. I say I’d like to think because I’m not sure if my suspicions were clouded because of the inordinate amount of terrorists that come from the Middle Eastern countries. Maybe I was stereotyping. After all, stereotypes are around for a reason even though there’s only about a 50/50 shot it’s true. For argument’s sake lets look at a few other stereotypes. If instead of a lady in a hijab what if it was a guy in full tactical gear open carrying a gun. Would that have made me or you nervous? Wouldn’t that be a stereotype? Let’s try a situation that’s a little more benign. What if you or I saw a woman with a bunch of kids? Are we automatically going to think she belongs to a certain religion or does one think she must really like kids? Maybe it all depends on your world view and how much you think in stereotypes. I do know one thing if too close woman had said anything or even gestured that she’d be right back, I wouldn’t have felt weird at all. I would have thought she had to meet someone outside or go pee or any number of things. I would not have been wracking my brain as to what was about to happen next.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first weird thing that has happened to me at this post office. Check out this early blog post. I’ve got to start using UPS and FedEx and staying away from this post office.