me, he asked before ever taking my breakfast order.All I wanted was an omelet. Instead, I felt I was getting an interrogation.The persistent questions alone were making me uncomfortable.
But his shaved head, military-style jackboots and the bullets tattooed on his finger put me on guard—so I finished my meal and exited quickly. Later, I discovered that his tattoos were gang-related and affiliated with local white supremacist groups.When I returned to my office in Atlanta, I shared the nerve-wracking experience with my manager, one of the few Black directors in the company.
“Yeah, these things happen. Bet you’ll never go there for a vacation,” he said sarcastically.
As a Black professional, he had been through his own set of uncomfortable interactions traveling on business and was all too familiar with the array of characters you meet and the variety of tactics used to wiggle out of uncomfortable environments. And despite his willingness to let me vent, I couldn’t help but feel like I needed more from him, from my coworkers and from the company I worked for.The incident wasn’t their fault, but it occurred while I was conducting company business, and it affected my work for weeks.
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