A few moments ago I pulled up in front of my building and parked. A woman, in her late forties, was out for a stroll. As she walked past my building she saw my neighbor going through his mail, tossing a bunch of it into the blue recycling bin. She stepped out into the street and hid behind a car all the while spying on him.My neighbor pulled a piece of paper out on an envelope, folded it up and placed it in his jacket pocket. He walked up the steps to the sidewalk and headed off down the street towards Douglass.
The woman noticed I was heading for the steps to my front door. She said, "Excuse me--"
I cut her off. "Don't worry. He lives in downstairs." It was obvious why she was worried. My neighbor is an immigrant from Central America. He has brown skin and our neighborhood is a predominately filled with affluent whiteys.
"Oh. Thank. God. I thought identity theft!" she sang with a gravitas often reserved for an operatic tragedy.
"No worries" I said in a tone I hope conveyed: you're a racist-- just keep walking down the street to the cleaners to pick up your white robe with the pointy hood.
I can understand why she thought this guy might be going through someone's mail trying to steal their credit card statements. It does happen. But I wonder, if I were going through my mail and tossing it into the recycling bin would she have even paid attention? I doubt it. But hey, everyone's a little bit racist, according to the puppets on Avenue Q, so I'll cut her some slack.