Rain and Racism

After a week of downpours, on Saturday, God once more smiled on Los Angeles.

No, the writer's strike didn't end. We just had a break in the seemingly never ending rain.

I hustled myself outside and took my sons for a five-hour jaunt around the neighborhood.

Yes, I said five hours.

We strolled in a very leisurely manner, saw gargantuan plants, hit up a couple of cafes and visited a few of those trendy boutiques that seem so ubiquitous around here these days.

Can I just say that if you're a boutique owner and you're trying to hawk liquid soap at $24 a bottle, you'd better learn to speak to people when they come in to look around. If I'm in your little shop for over five minutes, there's only one other customer in there besides me, and you can't speak, then guess what? Adios. Sayonara. Buh-bye. I'm not "The Terminator". I won't be back.

Seriously, in case you missed the memo, rents are crazy in LA. So, unless you're a trust-fund baby with money to burn, you better move some product so your shop can stay open.

Anyway, the great thing about walking around is that you can turn a corner and see... the local Jiffy Lube.

No, just kidding. There's nothing too special about that Jiffy Lube except that it's been the subject of one of those local TV news undercover investigations a few times. And yes, they do cheat people.

But forget about lying, cheating, scamming Jiffy Lube. Instead, check out those palm trees, and then those amazing, majestic, snow capped mountains in the background.

That snow's only 25 minutes north of my house. Well, 25 minutes if I don't hit any traffic, which would happen at, oh, I don't know, midnight maybe.

It's with good reason that my eldest asked me, "How come they got snow on the mountains and we don't have any here?"

What could I do but say, "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."

I don't know why the kids seemed so confused by my response. I mean, my seven year-old had the nerve to say, "Mom, why are you bringing up Jesse Jackson when I'm asking you about snow-capped mountains? It seems sort of like you're trying to inject race into a discussion about snow at higher elevations."

Darn that smart boy, but I was careful to tell him that that was not my intention at all and that he's reading into my comments. Gosh, what is this world coming to when even seven year-olds are playing the race card?

I distracted him from his train of thought by telling him we'd go get a new hamster. I suppose I had to keep the promise, and now we have a fat brown hamster named Hannah running around in a cage.

Let that be a warning to all you parents out there that when your child thinks you're being a racist, you end up with a new pet!

**Note: Trust me, I did not really respond like that to my son! I'm just being sarcastic about Bill Clinton's ridiculous comments in response to an unrelated question about Barack Obama. If you click on the link you can watch the entire thing on YouTube, but if you read the comments in the YouTube post, well, you'll see just how much race really does matter in this country.


Anonymous said…
I actually prefer not being spoken to unless I ask something. It gives me the freedom to look around quietly. Some sales people think talking your ear off will get you to buy something. Shopping is mainly a visual experience for me.
Liz Dwyer said…
I like them to at least say hello. Fromthere, they can ask if there's anything in particular that I'm looking for and then to tell me their name and to give a holler if I need anything. Because the boutiques usually carry specifics brands of products, I also like it when a shop owner tells me 20 or 30 seconds of info about what they've got that's extra cool. I agree though, don't talk my head off or hover around. That's just annoying.
Ian Lidster said…
I am astonished at store personnel who don't acknowledge me. And, like you, I immediately decide I will never darken their door again. Young female clerks are the worst in that regard. Don't business owners train staff any more?
But, dear, I enjoyed your walk with you. If your son wants mountains with even more snow, he should come here. We have far too much.
And I was delighted about Barack in SC.
Anonymous said…
A welcome sounds okay in theory, but I've been to so many shops where the manager doesn't just say hello but keeps a constant eye on me as if either they think I'm a shoplifter or they're desperate for some cash. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. I'd rather just wander round seeing what they've got and if I'm interested in something I'll ask some questions. A friendly face is enough to make me feel welcome.
Brianna said…
it's a fine line between being courteous and bothering me. sometimes i just like to browse in peace because that's all i'm doing...browsing. no intention of buying anything!

btw...who are you kidding? at midnight is when they shut down half the lanes on the freeway so it still wouldn't take 20 min. they don't like you to get comfortable driving too fast...that's my theory.
West said…
Yeah. A simple greeting, perhaps by a "Let me know if you need anything," is a good compromise.
Jameil said…
girl you know i get crunk when people don't speak to me. a simple hello will suffice. writer's strike please end!!!!!! PLEASE!! ooooh palm trees.... snooooow. what an interesting juxtaposition!
Lola Gets said…
Um, it sounds like YOU were playing the race card, not your son, he was just calling you on it!
Liz Dwyer said…
I've seen some snobby male poseurs that are just as bad as women. It's just a matter of being skilled at customer service and anyone can learn it if they care and take the time, but I think a lot of business owners think folks will come in regardless.

And I was totally psyched about Obama. The speech he gave was another tear-jerker.

Being stalked in a suspicious manner by a shop owner is another side of the bad customer service coin. I can't stand that either. If they don't say anything more than hi and welcome until I ask for something, that's fine too, but I do think to say nothing is rude.

You got me thinking of how mall jewelry stores are the worst! They can not leave you alone! There's no such thing as browsing in peace. They just get annoying!

I get tired of freeway shut downs as well. There seem to have been a lot at the 4-Level in downtown. Let me know when I get ON the 101, not at the very last second!

Yep, if they go on too long beyond that, especially if they're trying to show me things I have no interest in, I just feel like, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" But that almost never happens these days. I get more of the silent treatment.

If only the writer's strike would result in a fair deal. Last night I was wondering how the SAG awards got to go on...that mess was still boring as I don't know what.

If you click on the image, you can really see the snow! Weird! It's sunny today so I could go skiing or to the beach all in one day!

That's just me being passive aggressive and poking a bit of fun at Bill Clinton's code-word racism. I made that whole bit of dialogue up!
I'm with you. A simple hello is easy.

re: Jesse, Bill's statement put me over the edge. He seriously needs to sit down and let his wife for President.
Liz Dwyer said…
I keep thinking about how Hillary must want to just send him an email and tell him to zip it. On the other hand, she never says, hey, I disagree with him on this. So she must agree with him.
the last noel said…
Ha-ha. If your kid is mouthing off at you at seven, I can't wait to hear what he has to say when he's 17. I guess you'll be buying him a car instead of a hamster.
Liz Dwyer said…
LOL, I see I'm going to have to put a little disclaimer up there because my sarcasm clearly didn't translate! I was only making fun of Bill Clinton. A reporter asked Clinton a totally unrelated question about Obama and he launched into that response. Click on the link and you can watch it on YouTube, along with all the racist comments other viewers have left. Totally insane. Besides, you know if I allowed my child to be that smart-alecky in his responses that I'd get my black mother card revoked. It's stereotype, but really, black moms don't play that!
Um, what does Jesse Jackson have to do with this campaign and why would Clinton bring him up except for the common denominator that he and Obama are both black men?

The contrast between those rednecks and Barack Obama is staggering. He is running a clean and honorable campaign while theirs is one of desperation, nasty smears and lies. I was delighted to see that Caroline Kennedy supports him.
the last noel said…
Whew! I'm glad it was a joke! I also thought, Boy, that seven year old is articulate! LOL. I guess I need to pay more attention.
Unknown said…
I can't wait for your book! You really are good ~ But all I REALLY wanna say is that is one big beautiful plant! I always enjoy your posts and your pics...
Nerd Girl said…
Oh, I am so with you about non-speaking store personnel. If I'm in Target or WalMart, that's one thing. But if I walk in some chi-chi boutique or small store, immediately increasing the total store population to two? I'd like an acknowledgement. Just look up, smile, and say "hi." If I don't get it, I'm out. Period. I don't even browse. I've left some very cute things in some very cute stores behind this.
none said…
$24 for soap? Life bouy is 4 for a dollar :) They had better sing opera to me for those prices.

Yeah I caught Jiffy trying to rip me off last week. tried to charge me $4.99 to top off my antifreeze that I already knew was full.

Clinton is reaping some hate for attacking Obama. Glass houses. He needs to check his ego at the door.

The only problems I have with Obama are that he comes from a state known for rampant political corruption at all levels and he has voted present in his last 100 votes instead of taking a stand on any issues. His socialist agenda is very worrisome as well.

If Obama and Hillary are the best the Democrats can come up with it looks like we've got 4 years of Romney/McCain coming up.
Liz Dwyer said…
I thought Caroline Kennedy's op ed in the NYT was really well said and very touching. I was so glad to see it come on the heels of so much, "Well black people only voted for him because he's black," type of commentary in the media.

See, if you, the writer extraordinaire, got confused, then clearly my attempt at sarcasm wasn't working! In reality my son is the essence of a good boy. He's that angelic child that folks ask, "Is he like this all the time?" and the answer is, "Yes!"

Isn't that plant amazing? I made my sons pose in front of it and my eldest was afraid it was going to come to life and snatch him over the fence. I'm glad you enjoy coming over to visit. I have not worked on my novel for over a week. I need to get back to it.

Nerd Girl,
Yeah, Target or Wal-Mart, don't talk,I don't care because I know how crappy those jobs are. (I do boycott Wal-Mart, especially after watching the Wal-Mart movie!) But yeah, the pricey boutiques, I'm over you if you can't speak. There's just no reason! To me, if a boutique owner is really friendly and tries to make a connection with me, I'm going to come back again and again. It's like going to a restaurant where you know the staff rocks the house. You want to keep going back!
Liz Dwyer said…
Illinois is where I was born, so yeah, shady politics is omnipresent there. The California legislature is no better though and I'm sure New York's is bad as well. They're just less famous for it! I wonder how much backdoor dealing they've all had to do!

The 100 present votes thing doesn't bug me so much because it's a tool for indicating an openness to a bill. Usually folks talk after a vote and the rep can indicate what would have made them vote yes and what kept them from voting no. Plus, when you have to build alliances to get stuff done, voting "maybe" can be a way to indicate that.

And you know the pundits are talking McCain/Huckabee? That's an interesting pair-up! Very different from Clinton or Obama!
Keith said…
Next time that happens just say "I was thinking about stealing this. How fast can you run?" Then take a photo of the shop owner's expression and post it on the blog.

As for the two headed monster known as The Clinton, they don't have my vote in large part because of what you mentioned at the end of this post. Change is good. So is hope.

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