(For some reason I remembered this at work today & it made me laugh, so I’m sharing.)
Once, when I was working the info desk, I remember this British woman came in & had a few items she was looking for. I got her everything she needed, but she had one last request.
“I’m looking for a new CD for my daughter; she’s 13, ” she said, “Something intelligent. She’s very progressive; she speaks her mind.”
I got really excited. Patti Smith’s Land had just come out a few weeks ago & I blasted “Gloria” everywhere I went. I thought it would be perfect & told the woman I had just the thing. So I walked her over to the Pop/Rock section & picked up the CD.
She looked at the cover (just a shot of Ms. Smith blindfolded with some white curtains behind her) before flipping it over. The silence extended. Then I realized she was probably looking at the title “Rock N’ Roll Nigger.” I start babbling an explanation, thinking that this might not be such a great choice after all.
“See, she uses the term “nigger” in the sense of an outsider. Someone who doesn’t fit in; someone who society looks down on. She’s trying to transcend race.” I stopped talking when I realized that the customer wasn’t responding. & that I, a white person, just casually used the n-word, which could have probably fallen on the wrong ears.
Five more agonizing seconds crawled by before the customer put the CD down, turned to me & thanked me for my help in her posh voice. “I don’t think my daughter would like a CD with a song called “Piss Factory” on it.”