Friday, February 25, 2011
It's one of those deceptively sunny Bay Area days. It looks beautiful from indoors, but as soon as I stepped outside to walk the dog this morning, I was shivering and wishing I had put on another layer. It's also funny because forecasts were sensationalizing a possibility of snow last night . . . and here we are with our standard sunny yet chilly East Bay February day.
This doesn't mean I don't recognize that the weather is doing funny things, though. I know too much about the global effects of climate change to breathe a sigh of relief yet. Yesterday morning I went into work and one of my coworkers said, "So, what do you think about all this talk of snow in San Francisco?" And I said something like, "Yeah, well, you know, climate change is real." I was blown away when he responded with something like, "OH COME ON. You don't think man controls the weather, do you?"
I was stuck! I had no idea where to start with him! He was aggro in a Fox News kinda way about it. I mumbled something about climate scientists, global effects, and overconsumption of fossil fuels, all the while thinking to myself, Oh my god, I actually found one! My coworker doesn't believe in climate change! I don't remember what other bullshit he spewed, but I basically said I wasn't talking to him about it anymore. In most contexts I would be all about getting uncomfortable and having that conversation, but not at work. Not at that job. I was happy to let it go, until he said something like, "You can't believe everything Arianna Huffington says." I hissed, "Don't make assumptions about my fucking politics."
Later, when I was a little calmer, I explained to him that that is why I don't discuss politics at work. He said, "You think climate change is political?" I was flabbergasted! I wanted to say, Yes, absolutely. You fucking privileged white guy who gets to live in Alameda and drive around and not have to witness your land going under water, or temperatures changing so drastically that you can not continue to farm and live off of the land the way your ancestors did as far back as anyone can remember, or live next to an oil refinery like your neighbors in Richmond. Because your people have been systemically oppressing all who don't look like you for all of time. Instead, I said, "Yes, absolutely. Which is why I won't talk about it anymore."
Self-censorship is not my steez, truly, and when I think about all of the draining aspects of my current service job at a gentrifying Oakland business with no analysis (as far as I can tell) about their colonization of the neighborhood in which they have set up shop, it all comes back down to not being able to say what I want to say. I used to like it when it was busy at previous service jobs because it made the time go faster. Now I like it when it is busy at my job because it leaves less time for getting stuck in awkward conversations, like when people say things like, "This neighborhood is really changing. It's GREAT," and I have no idea how to call out gentrification without risking my neck. Because the reality is, I need those gentrifiers' tips to pay the PG&E bill, yo.
I'm now off to my Friday night shift, and feeling mad conflicted, because I'm really hoping it's busy.