by Steve & Barry Simpson
Our good friend Marx Powell is fond of saying, “He who angers you, owns you.” Well, I fear I am about to be owned.
Since Craig went out on his own, Barry and I have been spending a great deal of time at Twin Rocks Café.
Aside from the 15-hour days, I have enormously enjoyed the experience. I am a people person, and the cafe attracts a wide variety of cultures. Every year about this time, visitors from around the world converge on Bluff, and most of them are hungry. As a result, we often get to meet them. Some we even get to know.
Last Wednesday, I finished my work at the trading post and took up my post as busboy, host and chief sweeper at the cafe.
As Gordon Lightfoot might say in The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, “At 7 p.m. the main hatchway gave in, and the good ship and crew were in peril.” For us it was a flood of people that threatened our ship and crew.
In an instant we were unexpectedly awash in customers, and our staff was overwhelmed.
Consequently, I asked Kira to start a wait list to better manage the crush. Shortly after she started taking names, a Native couple walked past the waiting throng and sat down at a table.
I tried to politely explain that many others had arrived ahead of them and were waiting for the table they now occupied. They looked stunned, and refused to unseat themselves.
While I was attempting to clean another table and waiting for them to give up their position, a second Native couple arrived and seated themselves at an adjoining booth.
Once again, I attempted to describe the situation and asked both couples to please place their names on the list and allow us time to properly accommodate the other patrons who had already done so.
They persisted, “Are you kicking us out? Just take care of us.” The clear implication was that they were being mistreated because of their skin color. That was made ever more clear when they went to the cash register and began badgering Kira.
Now, I admit I am biased. I dislike ignorance, laziness and people who lack character. I am also against people who mistreat my old dog.
I am not, however racist. Nor, to my knowledge, is any other individual working at Twin Rocks.
I, therefore, am offended by those, whether they are people of color or not, who label me simply because of the tone of my skin, and by people who attempt to gain an unfair advantage because they are from a minority group. In Bluff, we are all, in one way or another, a minority.
One of the enduring memories I have of our now defunct Hozoni Pottery operation is a drawing Craig had posted on the wall. The Xerox copy featured a young man saying, “I know I am good, because God don’t make no junk.” That is how I approach the people I meet, and how I wish to be approached by those who meet me.
As Marx will surely agree, I am now a slave to this particularly pernicious issue.