Racism at its Finest – Thank You Centerville

Somehow for nearly 30 years I’ve  managed to dodge the personal racism bullet until just a few weeks ago.

Thanks to my $18 purchase on Groupon I was off to Spa World,  to spend the night in the traditional Korean spa oasis in Centerville, VA (note, its not home to the same progressive types in, say, Arlington & Alexandria) . For $18 I was about to to have an overnight steam, spa, heat therapy treatment.  I’d told a friend about it years ago when I’d read about it in an in-flight magazine. When I mentioned I was going recently, he said he wanted to come along. I initially wanted to go by myself because nudity is required in the single sex wet spa so not exactly a bring all your girl friends retreat, for me anyway. So I didn’t mind if he came along since we’d part ways upon entering anyway.  Our bags were packed for an overnight get away (they have mens and women’s sleeping rooms where you can spend the night for free), he drove, I read Marie Claire en route per usual, and away we went.

We’ve now reached Centerville which is literally in the middle-of-no-where Virginia and GPS has sent us in a circle a few times, so finally, with nearly zero cars on the pitch black road, we make an illegal U Turn for the sake of getting back on track.  Not 6 seconds after doing this, the siren and lights come on and we’re being pulled over.  We look at each other like, awesome, two black people in a Lexus at 10:30 at night in Centerville, fucking awesome. My friend who is ever cautious with the law to protect his business and TS Clearance w/ the government, isn’t yet flustered but says, I’ll just admit I was wrong in making the U turn, get a few laughs out of the officer (which almost always works for him), maybe, and it’ll be cool. Well, it wasn’t cool, at all.

The officer comes to the window and aggressively asks if we know what we did wrong, and of course the answer is yes, we explain the GPS issue and made the U turn out of lost frustration. He’s not trying to hear it, and asks where we’re trying to get to. I pipe up and tell him we’re heading to Spa World for some downtime away from the city. He looks at us, pauses and parts his lips to say the most hurtful thing I think I’ve ever heard ‘I’ll tell you now, you two won’t fit in there’.  Those words rang painfully in my ears. As my stomach turned and I was at a loss for words but managed to squeeze out ‘Exuse Me’? He said, ‘well its a Korean spa’. To which I responded ‘I know I’ve researched it and they have a diverse client base, mostly young professionals in the city, trying to get away’. He was adamant that we’re not cut out for for this place, and offers up ‘a nice hotel nearby’ if we’re looking for an overnight getaway. At which point my blood is boiling and my palms are sweating. I turn my head and roll my eyes and quip ‘I think we’ll be fine, thank you’.  Officer Asshole lets us off with no ticket, just a warning, gee how kind of him, and tells us to be safe. BUT before he walk back to his vehicle, still seething I say ‘Officer, I just want you to know what you said was offensive and not okay’. Instead of JUST apologizing which I really didn’t need, he apologize but ended with ‘but I’m just saying, you might not feel comfortable there’.  As soon as his patrol car door closed and our windows were up I burst into tears and saw scenes from Crash flashing in my mind and was thankful that the interaction was mild in comparison to other shit that happens like that everyday.

I couldn’t help but wonder if that was his MO, does he say things that are low key laced with racism all the time? was he just trying to fill his end of month quota and I was sensitive that day? who knows, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t let go of what he said, how many times he said it, and HOW he said it. Finally, me the girl that is hard to upset, couldn’t let it go and finally drafted an email to the Fairfax County Police.  Where all this will go, who knows, but I feel better that my voice was heard and they’re taking me seriously.

My advice, don’t be DWB in anyplace ending in ‘ville in Virginia after the street lights come on.

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~ by tortillacachupa on November 3, 2010.

One Response to “Racism at its Finest – Thank You Centerville”

  1. Officer Asshole, indeed. Thanks for sharing.

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