on second thought


I go to a hardware store near the house and the locksmith guys in the back, yes... they are exactly as you are imaging "locksmith guys would be,"... anyway... they were extremely helpful and they said they couldn't give me what I need to repair my big front door relic lock, but they gave me a list of a few other locksmiths that might be able to help me. One of these locksmiths is two blocks down the street. I'm on my way.


I stroll into the second key haberdashery and as soon as I pull the lock out of the bag, they know that they won't be able to help me... However, in similar fashion the helpful guys before them, they give me a name of the folks that they think will best be able to help. It was the second time I had heard a reference of a company across town that seemed to be the Mecca of locks. That place apparently closes at 4:30pm... so I hit the streets yet again.


I arrive at the next spot with time to spare. I walk in and there is one customer being helped, but then both guys behind the register say, in unison, Can we help you? I hope so. I have this old lock and I either need to replace it or come up with another idea of what to do next... and... well.. Here it is. So then the mood changes. This guy starts backing down from his helpful beginnings. He says that they don't have anything like that and that they can't help me.


I figured as much, but then one guy starts being real short with me and of course now my inherent paranoid black man radar starts flashing. I'm not saying that I knew there was some racial significance to the intent behind his word choice, I'm just saying that part of the wonderful legacy of a nation built on free labor and systematic oppression is that every time something odd happens, I have the privilege of having to be extra precautious of my surroundings so I don't underestimate a situation and end up calling my father from DC Central Cell Block.

Anyway, so now I'm hypersensitive to the way this guy is talking to me and he says that they can't help me and that they are closing and that I should come back on Monday.

Wait a minute... what’s going to happen on Monday?

I'm confused because I'm wondering what I would be coming back for then that we couldn't do now. What special information is going to be formulated over the weekend to help with my situation? Then he says that on Monday they will pull out a few alternatives and we can figure out what to do about the lock. Sorry.


So I bounce to my car in a tuft of irritation, feeling blacker and blacker with each step, get in my car, and start the engine. I turn the engine off and walk back into the shop.

You know... I was about to drive away and then I realized that it wouldn’t be right for me to leave here feeling angry while you get to go home feeling that you can treat people anyway you want. I rushed all the way across town to get here and everyone told me that you guys were the best. And I understand that you are closing soon, but you're not closed yet... and I feel that you were very dismissive and that you could have been more helpful. I just wanted to make sure you knew how I felt. Have a good day.