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David O White

Chances are she is a recent convert to Islam, and you know what they say about converts. Well, I don't know what they say, but converts to anything tend to be more strident and meticulous about following proper procedure and showing respect. Also, don't they have senior prices for coffee in your neck of the woods?


I read your blog but have never commented. I have worked in retail. It IS customary to hand people money, both ways. It is axiomatic that the rudest snobbiest people are the ONLY ones who will 'make' you pick up the money. The ones who do this act like they would prefer to fling the money on the ground just to see you grovel. This may be a bit of projection. But retail workers are held and treated as low-lying scum who ought to feel grateful they are employed. They are very sensitive to slights, and not handing someone money is a slight. But a woman in a hijab in today's world has automatic reason to distrust white people. She is also a POC, and a retail worker. You could have had any of three reasons to enact a bit of hierarchical display. I'll bet anything that's what she assumed you were doing. Also too she's in PA, which is Philly and Pittsburgh separated by Alabama, and has likely been subjected to some choice treatment recently.

If you find yourself there again, it would be an act of kindness to describe your physical disability that required you to lay you cash on the counter, and thus give her a reason to question her own assumptions. Such is the slow and tortuous path to mutual understanding.


As a result of reading your rather thought-provoking post "The day young Ensign Jimmy Carter was almost lost at sea" (Sunday, September 4, 2016), I put your blog in my bazqux feed aggregator and then commenced looking at your blog posts on a regulr basis.
This "Pink Fingernails at McDonald's" (May 7 2017) caught my eye today and though I don't usually comment on such things, I wanted to with this post, as I had something to add that may be of use in understanding things.

I suspect that @Dextrous has it almost exactly right. You may have inadvertently and unwittingly slighted the woman with pink nail varnish, especially if she had preconceptions that might have made her potentially overly sensitive to such things.

As an Antipodean reader, I had to look up what "POC" meant ("Person of Colour" I presume), but I suspect that that, together with being an Islamist, could well provide additional self-justification (reasons) for someone being overly sensitive.

Generally speaking, the more one is visibly differentiated to and stands out from the majority in the environment, the more one is likely to feel that one is potentially open to attack - i.e., because of the differences. This potential may often be manifested in fact, and experience of that is likely to create a greater level of sensitivity in those who are different and sensitive to that.

As a child brought up in North Wales (UK), I was the only English child in the primary school (up to age 11) and in my "high school" (from age 11 onwards). All the other children in these schools were Welsh. I spoke and behaved "differently". All the other children came from families where Welsh was their first or main language. I experienced a good deal of selective and negative attention from not only some other children, but also from some teachers. My mother explained that, as far as those children were concerned, this was natural in most animal species, and an unwittingly ignorant response to my differences, whereas in the case of adults (teachers) - who were educated and should know better - it was simply plain bigotry, and that I could and would see this kind of bigotry in different societies all over the world.

The thing to do (she explained) was to blend in better and try to help those others to NOT perceive my differences, and this could be assisted by my learning to speak Welsh as fluently as I could, so that they would see me as wanting to learn and being part of their culture. So this I did. It worked like magic and I spoke Welsh fluently and sang Welsh songs in the school choir at the National Eisteddfod. I even sometimes deliberately spoke English with a Welsh accent, to amuse them and also to sometimes to make some feel more comfortable. It was protective colouration, like a brown moth settling on the brown bark of a tree. I learned to acculturate whilst still retaining my personal identity and integrity. I accepted their differences too. This is what is called "getting along with other people" and it's a two-way street.

Some people, however, can effectively cripple themselves socially by creating an experience of real personal difficulty for themselves in that they don't seem to want or even try to "get along" or wish to acculturate. I suspect that this is often because they may have a chip on their shoulder about something - but it is arguably likely to be a chip the size of the Kaingaroa state forest (at 188,000-hectares, this New Zealand forest is the largest plantation forest in the world). You can't help such people. They have to learn to help themselves, by growing up and accepting responsibility for themselves and for treating others as equals, each with their own paradigms and through which lenses they will necessarily view and perceive the world about them. In a FREE and democratic society, we should not insist that all people adopt our peculiar paradigms, nor enforce our paradigms on others. Similarly, we cannot control events in our lives, but we CAN control our response to those events.

Having said that, for completeness I should probably add the corollary: Of course in fascist or communist societies/states (as opposed to FREE and democratic), they generally CAN and DO insist that all people adopt the official State paradigms, and this is enforced by violence and/or rule of law. In such states no-one would think twice before accepting that it was correct to call all those who (say) disagreed with the official state paradigm/view "a basket of deplorables" or, worse, "traitors". Oh, wait...

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