Judging People

Man, I am getting killed at work. My manager selected me for some dumb project that has nearly every part of my body hurting. Aside from barely being able to walk, I have cuts and bruises, too–just very physical [and completely disorganized] work that has totally screwed up my work/morning/leisure schedule. I have been so tired after work this week that, apparently, I paid one of my student loans and then forgot that I paid it just a couple of days ago. On the way home, I looked at today’s date and was like, “Oh, I have a loan due today and I forgot to pay it!” I logged in and there it was–paid 7/23.

Ahhh, I am losing it, people! I was seriously about to pay that loan again had it not been for the double zeros beside “amount due,” and I completely do not remember paying it two days ago.

After this week, though, I have to wonder if I’m also not losing my ability to judge people accurately. I’ve always been great at putting my finger on who someone is–sometimes completely on intuition, but a lot of the time it’s based on observing them, maybe speaking to them. It doesn’t take much for me. Sure I’ve been wrong before, and I’ve wondered a lot if I was just wrong about my “ex”…although one way or another, I obviously was wrong in my assessments of, at least, our relationship.

See, when I was told this week at work that I’d be working on this project with these particular two guys from work, I was just like………

Well, I was not happy. To me at the time, there were fewer combinations of people that could have been worse for me to work with. I’m cool with most of the people in my area at work, but I wasn’t with these two. I wanted to beg my work bestie Clara to come work with me on this project, but I kept my pride. Still, surely, there went laughter for the week, right out the window.

Now, one of the guys…my judgment of him did not result in dislike, but we never speak to each other. He just seemed quiet and dull, which I’m sure is how I appear to most people. Plus, if I’m being perfectly candid–and you know how I do it–despite the fact that I probably get along better with [straight] white men, incredibly oddly enough (being a black lesbian, but then again maybe that’s why–no sexual/romantic interest from either side), than any other group of people, I still do have a tendency to completely dismiss white men when I first meet them (as I usually do with white women, as well, if I’m still being honest)…meaning…I don’t view them in a social light. This certainly has not always been the case; it is something that has happened with age, for sure. Frankly, being anti-people like I am, I don’t view most people in a social light, but this is most true with white men.

So, I know that I ignore this guy at work–I am fairly aware of the fact that I do, especially since he is, like, one of two white guys in my work area. I grew up being treated this way by white people (grew up? Hell, it still happened in grad school), so now I do it back to them without even thinking about it or without correcting it when I know I’m doing it. I think the reason things changed with age is because it has happened so much that I now just assume that’s how it is between black people and white people, or even between black people and Asian people a lot of the time.

Bottom line–I know race affects how I treat people, how I interact (or don’t) with them. It’s something most people won’t admit, but I do. Sex/gender affects it, too, but in a less consistent way than race does. I perceived this guy, whom I will call Spencer, as a nice guy but a nice white guy. So, ugh, I have to spend the rest of my week working with a quiet, dull but nice white guy? Sucks, man. Yeah, that’s how I felt.

But the other dude, who is black? Yeah, he was even worse. Probably the least friendly person towards me since I have been working at this new job, but he is cool with everyone else. Spencer probably had spoken to me more than this dude had, prior to this week. I was pretty close to not liking him, but I can’t explain it–he just seemed like an ass. I couldn’t figure out if he was one of those black guys who looks down on black women (I’m the only black female in my work area) or what. Even if I said something to him, he wouldn’t say anything. Let’s call this dude Corey.

Okay, so I’m not wanting to work with these dudes. Even though I didn’t beg Clara to come with me, I did tell her that much.

People, I tell you–During the work project, I was surprised by how much Spencer was starting conversations with me and how comfortable I felt with him, and Corey seriously had me thinking that if he weren’t married I might be able to fake being hetero in a hetero relationship with him…well, maybe for two weeks, anyway, before running screaming back to homoland. Spencer and I talked quite a bit on the first day. He’s a very nice guy, period.

Corey is from Mississippi, and, let me tell you–he acts like a guy from Mississippi is supposed to act. Ladies first, opens doors, offering the lady a seat before he takes it, offering an umbrella on a rainy day, doing all the heavy lifting–just straight out of a manners manual, if there ever was one. People might consider this chivalry, but I consider this Old South. See, the one thing we Southerners loved to take pride in once upon a time ago was that we–all of us, not just the men–had better manners than everyone else. Yes, that was our belief. Some of us still believe this; unfortunately, it is a dying art in the South because parents here aren’t doing their jobs right anymore. Southern guys my age usually aren’t like Corey anymore, especially not with random chicks they aren’t trying to impress.

And it’s not as if I think guys should open doors or do all the heavy lifting, because I don’t really (however cool I think that stuff is). But I do think some of this stuff is part of being Southern, i.e. all of us down here should be holding doors open for people and all of us should thank someone who does this or who opens a door for us, but relatively few of us do anymore. I’m not saying this is or was exclusive to Southerners, but I do think we used to hold people to a certain standard of manners more so than others, that we used to teach Southern kids to be a certain way and we used to be proud of it. That’s what Corey embodies to me, and that’s why I very briefly thought I could be straight for about a week or two. Nowadays, all Southerners seem to brag about and be nationally exalted for is being better in college football than everybody else is (cheating-ass teams full of criminals and druggies, one of which produced Aaron Hernandez, but everyone conveniently forgets all that…except us Big Ten fans).

Anyway…we all judge people, so that’s nothing I’ll ever apologize for. It’s a very important defense mechanism. I just think that, for a variety of reasons best summarized as life, I have gotten too defensive. When I think about dating and relationships, I think about how I’m going to defend myself better the next time around…defend, as in protect…not as in arguments. I don’t think about the things other people probably think about when they think about love and finding the right person–happier things. When I think about work, friendships, anything social…it’s all the same. Everything has become a battle of sorts, and it’s hard to relax. On one hand, the feeling that I’m sick of people is totally real. It’s there, that’s how I feel–especially after my last job. On the other hand, it’s almost as if I dislike or dismiss people as soon as I meet them for no good reason.

I used to be better at this. Wanting to defend myself against people, I suppose, has made me, actually, a worse judge of people.

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