Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What kind of a man

When my son, Brian, was about four, he was extremely inquisitive. As a matter of fact, he still is.

We were in line at a supermarket checkout, and Brian was sitting in the shopping cart basket. A uniformed African-American mailman was in line in front of us.

Brian looked at the man and then turned back toward me. In that loud voice that’s so typical of four year-old boys, he asked, “Hey Dad, what kind of a man is that?”

The mailman looked back at me. We made eye contact.

I hesitated for a moment. In my most liberal, politically correct voice, I responded, “Oh, he’s a regular man.”

The postman watched with amusement.

But Brian insisted. “No Dad, what kind of a man.”

“Oh, he’s just an ordinary man,” I answered.

I was just starting my some-people-have different-colored-skins-but-we’re-all alike-inside speech when Brian interrupted me. “But what kid of a man. Is he a policeman or a fireman?’

“He’s a mailman,” I replied.

The postman smiled wryly and emptied his basket on the counter. He didn’t look back as he paid for his groceries and walked out of the store.

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