To celebrate Martin Luther King Day I’m going to do a rerun of a post from a few years ago. I updated only a few sentences in the story. It is a true story and I think gives a small glimpse at the prejudice we encounter daily all around us.
I was picking up a couple of staple type items in Kmart when I spotted this white couple in their early thirties. I should say I smelled them before I actually saw them. When someone stinks that bad I can only describe it as an odor so foul you can actually see stink whiffs coming off them. It’s as if the whiffs were drawn into a comic strip to emphasize the stench the artist was trying to convey. It wasn’t that they looked poor but more lazy or Grunge Rock grimy. I imagine for about $4.00 I could have cleaned them up. I believe that’s about the going rate to operate a self-wash stall at the car wash. I try to be frugal as I am poor so I wouldn’t spend the extra $2.00 for the dryer and wax spray, as I believe they could air dry.
I looked in their cart to hopefully see if they had bought any soap, deodorant or shampoo but alas no. This Kmart was the one in Niles, Ohio so I note it is a Super K. I say that because the Super K’s have groceries. I was thinking if they went back in the produce section they could buy a head of garlic pretty cheap. I was thinking even if they hung a couple of garlic cloves under their armpits it would be a step in the right direction. This couple’s offensive odor isn’t even what makes me take keyboard to internet highway. It’s what I heard them say to another couple who was shopping. That was a couple that split up with the men heading in one direction and the women in the other. These were folks of Asian descent in their fifties or sixties. The men were neatly attired in suits and the ladies in dresses. The two men walked past the putrid white couple and were talking in a foreign language. Stink man turned toward them and said, “Yer in Ameriker furiner speakee Amerikeen.”
The Asian men glanced at Mr. Stinky but then walked on. I spun to stare at Mr. and Mrs. Stinky. They had already walked down the aisle pretty fast and I was out of range of yelling at them. I wanted to chase them down but with my knee that needs replaced I knew I couldn’t speed limp that fast. That and the fact that having two college loans to help my kids pay off makes me worry about my safety much more than when I was a single guy. Anymore you have to consider that everyone could be armed and dangerous. We just had a man shot dead for texting in a theater. The shooter was a retired cop who had taught gun safety classes. That case just shows you that anyone can turn into a crazy killer when they have a gun. Truth is people who don’t spend money on soap and deodorant probably spend it on guns. I do remember seeing Reynolds Wrap foil in the gross couples cart so I imagine they were going home to make foil hats.
As I was heading to my car I saw the Asian couples putting bags in the trunk of a Lincoln with Ohio plates. They were all talking back and forth in English. English that I note was far better than Mr. Stinky’s “Amerikeen” English. The Asians had one up on Stinker as they were bilingual and Stinky wasn’t even monolingual.
Sadly, I am reminded that America has a history of racism and it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near ending. On the other hand America also has a history of social justice groups and individuals who have stood up for equality and inclusion, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. On Martin Luther King Day we celebrate not only MLK but all those who’ve fought to make our country a true melting pot. That gumbo of so many cultures is the active ingredients needed to disinfect the air of the stench of the Mr. Stinky’s of our country. Happy Martin Luther King Day!
The Staple Singers: “If You’re Ready”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.