What Would You Do?
The health club hot tub was beckoning me today, even though the temperature outside is hovering around 97*. It has jacuzzi type jets which I used to enjoy, but after remodeling the spa they turned the jets straight up instead of out. This resulted in huge air bubbles that volcano up behind you, wet your hair, up your nose and in your ears, and do no good at all on your back. I prefer that they be turned off as much as possible when I am in there, so I can relax without three cups of water shooting into my ears.
I had just sat down in the 104* still waters, thanking my lucky stars that I had a membership there, when in walks a man about my age who promptly goes to the switch, turns it on and steps into the tub. I could not believe that he had done it without asking if I minded. If I had already been in the tub for 8-10 minutes (my usual stay), I would not have cared. Most people ask if it is okay to turn the jets on - especially if there is only one person in the tub - but he didn't even look in my direction. I immediately hauled myself out of the water and sat on the divider between the hot tub and the pool.
Just as quickly, I set my legs back down into the water, because it dawned on me that if I didn't, he would think that I got out of the tub because he is black. Believe it or not, there are a few people there sometimes, who will not enter the tub if there are blacks in it. I am certainly not one of those, but it occurred to me that he might think so if I didn't get back into it. So I waited patiently until he dove into the pool; I walked got out and turned it off. Luckily, no one else interrupted me before I was ready to exit. I wonder what he would have thought if the scene had happened like this: He is sitting in the tub, blissing out over the hot water and the jets, and I walk in and turn off the switch without asking, blithely stepping into the tub, seemingly oblivious (or blatantly uncaring) that I had done anything ill-mannered?
I try not to offend anyone with my words or actions, but there comes a time when I'd like to stop bending over backward to avoid it. I was at a restaurant drive through several years ago, when after having to wait a good while at the window, I placed the money on the pass through. The woman taking the orders looked at it, sneered at me and almost threw my change through the window before she thought better of it and slammed it down on the pass-through. I didn't understand why she did that, until I read an article a couple of months later how some people will not hand money to black people because it may result in their hands touching. It never occurred to me not to do that - and it never occurred to me that some others might do it - and it sure didn't occur to me that anyone would take offense at it. Since that time, I have always held on to my money and handed it directly to the order-taker, no matter how long the wait, or what else I may want to do with that hand.
How might you have handled this situation? Please believe that I do not want to start any arguments or diatribes on race relations. I would like a suggestion of how to handle such situations without offense to either party. I will delete any comments I find objectionable.