Sunday, April 21, 2013
"MY DADDY WAS LAYING A CORPSE"
In 1969, I went to a funeral home to pay my respects to one of my co-workers whose father had died. She and I became lifelong friends, but not because of that incident; that was nothing unusual; that's just what WE do! My mother always said, "We do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do!"
Years later, working a different place, I took disciplinary action with an employee. That employee immediately charged that I was discriminating against her because she is black. Of course the charge was untrue and fortunately, I had a number of black people there who came to my defense.
While the case was in the grievance process, I received a phone call from that woman with whom I had worked in 1969.
We had kept in contact throughout the years but at that time, we had not spoken for several months. After some "catching up", she asked, "What are you doing causing trouble there at work?" Her tone was humorous and I answered, "Well, you know me, just a damned racist!" She said, "You know what I did when I heard about it? I called that Union President and I called your boss." Shocked, I asked, "Oh, my God, why did you do that?" She said, "I told them that I'd known you since the 1960s and that when my daddy was laying a corpse, you were the only white person who came to the funeral!"
"Laying a corpse"; I had never heard that expression. Who would have thought that my "doing the right thing" back then would have meant such a great deal to her?
It finally dawned on me to ask, "How on earth did you hear about it?" She said, "Well, Honey, that's my niece that you wrote up." I was taken aback and I was quiet. She continued, "You should have fired her lazy ass!"