We’d all like to think that we’re open-minded and care about all of humanity.
I’ll be the first one to say, I believe we should all be treated the same despite age, race, color, or religious belief.
I may not always understand other people but I take the time to ask questions about whatever it is I don’t know
about the individual person and don’t make assumptions; perhaps, it may come from my own personal experiences.
I wrote the following story in 2004. It still rings true today.
Open your Mind – Open your Heart
I stand at the sink in the restroom, and stare into the mirror.
Sweating profusely and red-faced, after finishing two hours of grueling work, my display is ready for the private showing and sale of my handmade art jewelry at the Sarasota Yacht and Country Club.
A feeling of relief covers my face when I ask the director from the club committee if there is someplace I can change and freshen up. She takes me to a well-equipped bathroom where I can shower and dress before the ladies arrive for the luncheon.
The chatty director tells me, the bathroom is used by the women, after their golf games. They can shower and change if they are staying for lunch.
It was incredible to see fluffy white towels folded and waiting for the next person to come in and use them. After a refreshing shower and a new outfit, I was ready to enter the country club to begin my art lecture.
As I gathered my things, an elegantly dressed woman enters the bathroom. I turn and smile as the woman goes into one of the stalls, only to find her stepping back out rather quickly. She approaches me.
“Would you put some toilet tissue in that second stall? There isn’t any inside the container; she says in an annoyed tone, then, the woman scurries off into another bathroom stall.”
Flabbergasted, I question myself on what I heard.
Has she just told me to replace the toilet paper in an empty toilet paper holder?
Yes. Without a doubt, she had.
A cold chill radiates through her body. My mind goes to places I do not want it to go. Emotions begin to rise in me.
Why is this woman assuming I’m hired help?
Eventually, the woman is standing beside me at the bathroom sink.
“Have you gotten the toilet tissue for that stall yet?”, she says disapprovingly.
Taken aback by the incredulous words this woman is saying to me, I manage to tell her that I’m not a worker at the country club. Though I’m overwhelmed by this insulting woman, I gather-myself together enough to put into words that I’m the featured artist/lecturer for the luncheon.
The embarrassed woman stammers in an effort to find words to express herself. None seem to come her way. She blew a not-so-sincere apology and exited the bathroom as quickly as she could.
I stand frozen for what seems like a lifetime. Reflections of how far in the world we’ve come all disappear in one moment. My thoughts keep repeating, we are still in the days of repressive domination.
Nationality, color, and ethnicities are still prevalent in the minds of some upper-class white people. Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality that I did not expect on this very auspicious day. I’d been selected from a great many artistic jewelers to give a lecture at a country club luncheon. It was an invitation my peers had let me know they coveted.
With my shoulders back and a deep cleansing breath, I leave the bathroom and head for the lecture hall.
I would complete my task of lecturing on ‘Designer Jewelry in the Art World.’
Regardless of what the thoughts of others might be, I will stand proud in the power of my place in the art world as a Latina woman. I will engage the women at the luncheon with my knowledge of my art form. Hopefully, on this day, I will be able to educate someone on the proper way to treat other people of any kind, even hired help.