Blowing My Cover
People code switch to different degrees; some more than others. I code switch a lot. Before my current vocation; I had very little experience in working with White people. Now it’s like living two different lives (shout out to dual consciousness). But code switching aside, I think I may have an aggression problem. Which means that I have to switch even more behaviors.
One thing I have switch up is how seriously I take physical threats. You know the people who threaten your physical well-being just for looking at them wrong? I think one of my grandparents was one of those people. So when Tony asked me how funny it would be if we all got into a brawl in the office; all I wanted to say was, “how much laughing do you plan on doing if I’m whoopin yo ass?”. But instead I said, “hilarious”.
It’s relatively easy to act and adjust behavior in an office. It’s a controlled environment. The problems arise when coworkers venture out of the office together. That’s when the switching goes into a dizzying frenzy. Like when the homeless guy tested me.
My coworkers and I were walking to the deli, and a panhandler came up to us asking for change. We all politely denied his request. Instead of walking away, this guy yells, “c’mon dawg!”. And he looks me in the face. No one else. Just the one Black guy in the group referred to as “dawg”. I hate panhandlers, but all I said was “I don’t have it”. The conversation continued like so:
Bum: Come on brotha, hold me down. Stop fronting man.
Me: Fronting? I told you I ain’t got it son.
Bum: Let me holla at some change when you come out the deli
At this point, I’ve lost all of the act. It’s about to be a straight up nigga moment. In my shit-is-about-to-go-down voice I said, “Son, fall back”, as I clapped my hands on every consonant… he walked away. With all that clapping, he knew he ain’t want it.
To some of you, that action may not seem like too much. All I said was “fall back”. But I kid you not, by the next day, the rumor was that I hated homeless people.
The homeless guy blew my cover, and now everyone just thinks I’m a cold hearted asshole.