Friday, December 17, 2010

"A Selection of Teas"

This one is small.

Though reverberating.

Of course.

I’m lunching alone at a local eatery. The waitress comes up to take my drink order.

“I’ll have some iced tea.”

I had done a nice thing that day, and I thought I deserved a treat. My acupuncturist frowns upon caffeine and cold drinks in general. So I go wild, and indulge in both. And you thought I was a dullard.

“Would you like black tea, or green tea?”

“Black tea,” I reply.

The fact is, I had no strong preference. And I have a rule about that: If you’re given a choice, you do not reject the black tea.

When the waitress is black.

What can I tell you? Sensitivities persist. Guilty white people are keeping them alive.

The waitress moves away. I study the menu. I am thinking, the chicken tacos. Nothing dangerous there.

The waitress returns with a question.

“Did you say you wanted black tea or green tea?”

“Black tea,” I reply. Facetiously adding, “Is that the wrong answer?”

To which the waitress replies,


Now that was really weird.

Never before had a waitress discouraged my iced tea selection. This put me in an unavoidable bind. Do I now distance myself from the tea which I ordered at least partly so as not to insult her racial designation, or do I reject her unequivocal advice? I mean, how would that play?

“I tell you something, and you deliberately ignore me. That shows a definite lack of respect.”

What should I do?

Hoping to avoid offence, I ask one more question, searching for a clear direction as to how to proceed.

“Is there something wrong with the black tea?”

“It’s not very good.”

Not much help there, unless trying to decide which ice tea to order.

My time is up. The waitress is waiting.

I uncertainly switch to the green tea.

When it’s time to pay, I leave the waitress an oversized tip, a “Thank you” for averting a serious beverage selection error.

I wonder if she thought it was for something else.


YEKIMI said...

You should have asked for African-American tea.

Anonymous said...

That was all just for your blog topic, a little provocation, right? You didn't give a hoot what the waitress felt about your tea selection, did you? I hope not.

PALGOLAK said...

Your posting is a microcosm of why I avoid visiting the US.

That 'race thing' is always hanging in the air, so to speak.