To the self-checkout cashier at SAMS. I don’t know if you will ever see this, but I hope it finds its way to you. I know today when you greeted me with a smile you did not recognize me. I know when you started playing sweetly with my children my 5 year old sons comments, “Haven’t we seen you before?” didn’t resonate with you the way it did me. Today as soon as you said hello, my stomach churned and my heart ached. I was afraid that today’s encounter with you would be different than the one that I experienced two weeks ago.
You see two weeks ago, I was at that same self-checkout lane and you were the cashier on duty. However, instead of the sweet smile and friendly conversation you met me with today, I was met with an uncomfortable closeness of your watchful eye. I was met with rude words and ugly looks as you looked over at me in frustration. You did not even say hello that day, you just quickly placed yourself uncomfortably close as my husband checked us out. On that day, you did not see a family, you saw a man. You saw the color of his skin.
I can’t expect you to look at us and see what I see, but please let me tell you what you missed.
You missed the endearing look I gave my husband as we reached the line. The look of love, of compassion, of an understanding of who he truly is. You see, that man is my rock. He was there holding my hand as I gave birth to all three of our children. He held me as I screamed out in pain when we were told our second son would not survive. He was there holding my hand as I sang one last lullaby and knelt at our sons grave. He carried me, when I was hurt so badly I could not walk. You missed that look, because you saw the color of his skin.
You missed the giggles coming from our oldest son, as we strolled up to your line. The giggles that only come from a little boy that admires his father so much, that he mimics his every move, and plays “being daddy” every day. A little boy that cuddles up into his father’s arm every night to fall asleep. The one that ask his daddy to play catch with him. A little boy that has seen his father sit in chairs much too small so they could build with Legos. A little boy that hears, I love you, from his father every night. You missed that giggled because you saw the color of his skin.
You missed my daughter smiling playfully at her father as we entered the line. The smile a daughter gives her father when she knows she can throw herself back out of his arms and he will catch her. She gives him her full trust and knows he will protect her. A smile that only a daughter can give a father that makes her laugh when he chases her around the house tickling her. A daughter that knows the voice of her father as he reads to her each evening and says I love you. A daughter that knows the gentleness of his large arms as he hugs her and kisses her each night. You missed that smile because you saw the color of his skin.
You missed the discomfort in my eyes as you were uncomfortably close, eyeing us as though we were doing wrong. You missed my hand as I reached over to touch my children, when my husband calmly informed you he had been through the line before and knew how to work the machine. You missed the look of anguish in my eyes, when I knew, this situation would not have been the same if it were just my children and me. You missed the tears I was fighting back, because of the way you were treating us hurt my soul. You missed a lot that day because you were to focused on what didn’t matter.