Drove up to Memphis to pick up my tools and some fence that I had left there. I left them there last Nov. I had wanted to buy some property in Memphis, and had found a house that had been completely writtten off for demolition from a fire, that I thought I could restore. So, I thought I had to convince the building inspector that the house wasn’t a total loss by cleaning up the damage (everything was knee high in insulation, burned furniture, etc.). I had bought a ladder, a shovel, and a broom, and had a sledgehammer, and a pry bar. So, I started cleaning. Well, the people wanted a $1000 deposit on the $2500 property. No one in memphis would cash my money order, so I had to go back up to Jersey where it was issued to get it cashed. When I got back down to Memphis, they had clearly sold the property to someone else who had started to work on the house, and had a dumpster outside. My tools were locked in the shed in the back.
So, I moved on without my tools, and the car broke down, and now that I have the pickup, I have mobility and I can finally pick them up
Well, I meet the guy who jumped in ahead of me with the money. He did a nice job on the house, but he doesn’t have a key to the shed that he is looking to sell. Wants me to spend the night – I don’t want to because my dogs still need me back in Arkansas. He comes up with one of my tools in the back of his car, and says he will ask someone else who has the key to the shed.
OK. Now the ambivalence. The guy (who has several projects, contracts and flips houses for a living) cut someone who was living out of their car out of an opportunity. He jumps in, does all the work (granted better than I would have), and now wants me to work for him with my truck. Now, race comes into the picture…The neighborhood is largely black. He’s black, and certainly more welcome in the neighborhood than I am. Here he is jumping into a situation, making me feel worthless and useless by virtue of his ability, and capitalizing on his "castration" (I don’t really have a penis – but it is kind of an analogy) of me. I don’t want any part of it. I want my tools back!!!!
Race relations are a tricky thing sometimes. You can cut the tension with a knife sometimes when the trust level goes down. It isn’t all the time – there are a lot of normal relations and everyday common people just hanging out and talking a lot of the time regardless of race. But every now and then, the separatist movement rears its head. I feel it push back, antagonizing me by their actions and words. It is not violence (with me), but I experience it socially as if someone were literally pushing me back, displacing me by virtue of my whiteness. So, the gut instinct socially is to protect yourself – your identity – from the social violence. How does one do this? You separate, yourself. You reaffirm your worth in the absence of the negation of your ability. You ignore the ability in the other who had an advantage in the situation where you lost, and you affirm your own ability in their absence.
The trip took 24 hours for me. I got a little over 17 mpg in the truck, and ran out of gas. To be fair, I was picking up blown tires on the side of the highway the whole trip. So I packed and disposed of 2 pickupfuls of tires and I had the 2 dogs (Chandler and Tammy) with me. Disposing of the 2nd load was tough. Memphis won’t take them without a disposal fee (that they wanted me to pay). I finally convinced them by telling them that my dog in the crate could not be watered or walked until the 125 pound tire that I had lifted into the back of the truck was taken out. I also moved 2 half-axles with the wheels still connected. The tires were blown.