Archives for January 2018


The January ritual of fortunate people: returning gifts.  This week, I blitzed through the mall, emptying my bag and throwing myself on the mercy of kind store clerks.  (Of course, I didn’t return what you gave me.)

Each and every time, they exchanged my lovingly given but not-quite-right gift for a store credit.  Nary a receipt in sight, but tags still on.  Only once did I even have to show my drivers license.

I used to think that, with the right attitude and a good reason, you could return anything, any time.

Now I think it’s just one more example of white privilege, plus economic privilege. Having things I don’t actually need, plus the ability to get to the mall, plus the ability to step into a store and not be regarded with suspicion are all layers of my unmerited good fortune.

We all have bigger and better battles to fight, but this was one more reminder of how cushioned my life is…and how much I like it that way.

My office co-workers reminded me recently that my car’s brake light bulb was out.  “Oh, yeah,” I remembered.  “I have to get that fixed.”  But I had the luxury of not rushing to do it.  I drove around for a couple of weeks before the repair place could fit me in, with no trouble.  The first time my daughter, who’s black, borrowed the car, she got stopped a mile from home.  Grateful to be with her, I was torn between letting her dig around in her purse for the registration (good lesson) and handing over my copy to get away as quickly as possible (mama terror.)

I am confident that I miss so many places of my own privilege, but I’ll be thinking about them as I use these gift cards, praying to be much more attentive.