That's me, in so many ways. I was born into privilege as a white person. I've never had to question whether my race was the reason for someone's decision affecting my life. I am an American, born in the most powerful country in the world, where I take for granted the freedom I have to move, work and learn. I have an education and all of the many options it gives me. I am straight and therefore what people have come to expect in their casting of roles.
Now I have a new sign of privilege: my car. I had no idea the impression it would give others. I was so excited to own exactly the car I wanted for the first time in my life. I still love to get in it every single time. But three times now I've been cursed for the crime of driving a convertible. The first time, I drove by a man standing on a corner downtown. As I passed he called out, "Asshole!" Who, me? Why? It took me a few minutes to realize what had transpired. It really made me think. The next two occasions of unintelligible remarks yet unmistakable intent told me this was a trend.
Huh. I'm being seen as a member of the elite, an entitled conspicuous consumer. I, who remembers those years when I put cardboard in my shoes to hide the holes in the soles; who drank powdered milk and wore hand-me-downs; who qualified for food stamps one unemployed summer; who didn't own a car until I'd been teaching for a year and a half.
I want to stop and correct these people's misapprehensions, but it doesn't really matter. I ask myself: how many times have I been guilty of the same assumptions? What crimes have I mentally accused people of doing simply based on appearances?
It's yet another wake-up call for me to not leap to conclusions, one of my own greatest failings. I need patience, pondering, and peaceful resolutions. It is a privilege to be able to drive the car I want. I can handle the heckling with grace.