Hiding In Plain Sight

I was speaking
With a group of people
That I once worked with.
Of course,
They all remembered
How I’d left
The job I had
With them.

Among them were a few
Of the people
That I call my friends.
We were all talking
About our lives.

That’s when
My old friend Bob
Said something
That really pissed me off.

See,
Bob asked me
Where I worked.
And I’d answered him
Very honestly.

“Right now,
I work at Best Buy.
A member of
The Geek Squad.”

And Bob,
Being who he was,
And being normal,
I supposed,
Couldn‘t help but ask
That nasty question
I‘d been asked
1000 times before.

“Why do you work there?”

I’m sure that everyone
In the group that day
Saw the flash of anger
In my eyes,
And on my face.

I’m also sure
The only thing they saw
Was a flash.
Anger that was there,
For a heart beat.
Maybe two.
And then was gone.

What the didn’t know,
And couldn’t see
Was the reaction that had happened
Inside of me.

Nor could they have heard
The echo of the words
That Jesus the Christ
Had spoken
While dying
On that cross.

“Forgive them.
They don’t know at all
What they’re doing.”

My mind raced.
Running once again
Through a million thoughts
At once.
Through memories
Of things that I’d gone through.
That no one in that group
Would ever understand.
The perspective that I had
That was far outside the walls
Of the tiny world
They all lived within.

It only took a second
Of real world time
Until my answer came.
“Because it suits me,
And where I am,
In my life right now.”

Bob, being Bob,
And blind to anything
That he didn’t understand.
So boxed into his world,
That he couldn’t comprehend
Anything beyond the walls
Of his own beliefs,
And dreams,
And ways of doing things.
Bob had responded.

“But,
You’re so much better
That that.
You shouldn’t be
Working at Best Buy.
It’s beneath you.
You supposed to work
At a job
That uses your skills.
One that pays you
What you’re really worth.”

You should have heard
The quiet whispers
Race throughout the room.
Each person there
Confirming with the other
That what Bob had declared
Was absolutely true.
Heads nodding their agreement,
As they all looked at me,
With a look that screamed out loud,
“It’s so sad
To see you reduced
To this.”

I swear,
I felt that if I could,
I’d get a great big truck.
And run over all of them.
For not a single one of them
Had a clue at all
Of how they lived.
And the things they did.

Instead,
I asked,
“Why, Bob?
Why is my job
Beneath me?”

That was when Bob stopped,
With no answer to give,
So Becky answered for him,
“You know why!
You know it is!”

And there it was again.
That same damned answer
That I’d heard
My entire life.
Just one single word.
Because.
With no explanation.
No reason.
At all.
Just the assumption
That I understood
How things really were.
How they were
Supposed to be.

Me,
Being who I am,
And having stepped
Far outside the walls
Of the tiny world
They all lived within,
I couldn’t help
But answer them.

“Because people like me
Don’t work at Best Buy,
Right?”

Every head was nodding
In agreement
With that declaration.

“Because only useless people,
That can’t get a real job,
One that pays real money.
One that is respectable.
That shows their social status,
And their social worth.
Their ranking in this world.
Work at Best Buy?”

That was when
I let my anger show.
“That’s pretty damn close
To the most outrageous thing
That I’ve ever heard.”

I glared at all of them.

“Are you telling me
That the people I work with
Are not as good as you?
That you’re more valuable
Than they are?
More important?
Just because you have a job
That pays you so much money
That you can buy
Damn near anything
That you want to?”

I looked each of them
Smack in their eyes.
Letting my anger
Burn everything I saw
In their hearts
And souls.

“Are you saying
That it’s sad
To see the way I’ve fallen.
As if I’ve become someone
Less than I once was.
As if I’m now someone
That’s beneath all of you.
Because I work
In the job I do?”

I stood up.
And they all knew
I would be walking out
In another moment,
Or perhaps two.

“I take it none of you
Has a fucking clue
How prejudiced you are,
With such a biased view
Of life?”

I turned at started walking
toward the door.
Everyone there knew
I was leaving.
And that perhaps
I’d never talk with them
Again.

But as I headed
For the door,
I couldn’t help but take
A parting shot
At those within the room
That had such frozen hearts,
And stone deaf ears,
And eyes that no longer saw anything
Except what they wanted to.

“Just another case
Of prejudice
Hiding in plain sight.”

Since that day
I have not spoken
With any of those people.

And I never will
Again.

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