I met a man on the street not far from the Burger King on Orrington. He spoke and asked me if I could help him get something to eat.
I asked him to pull up his mask.
I told him that I was headed for Burger King and that I had a coupon. He could come with me.
He mentioned that he had been asked to leave Burger King. I assured him that it would be all right if he came in with me, then sat down with something to eat. He said he would like the two Whoppers for $5.
“All right,” I said.
Together the stranger and I entered Burger King. I got in line to use my coupon and order the stranger’s “Whoppers.” While waiting for our order to be filled, the man and I talked, or more accurately, the man talked and I commented sympathetically on what he told me about his family history.
His eyes lit up (his mask covered what I assumed was a smile underneath), and he said, “I’m gonna call you Auntie.”
“Well, thank you,” I responded. “That’s an honor.”
The stranger and I did not exchange names, and because he was a Black man, his calling me, a Black woman, “Auntie” was okay. It was a sign of respect.
However, historically, Caucasians calling Black women “Auntie” was not considered a sign of respect. “… And many Black women who raised white children and cleaned their white homes were called ‘Auntie’ by their owners and employers, a twisted sign of respect that simply reinforced Black women’s place as workhorses.” (from the; essay “Agony Auntie” by Tamara Winfrey Harris, author columnist and speaker)
When our orders came, I did not sit down with him. I needed to catch my bus. He said, “Thank you”; I wished him the best; we said goodbye (no hand shaking); and I rushed out to the bus stop.
As I sat on the bus, I thought about some of the people with whom I grew up who believed in being kind to strangers because they might be angels in disguise.
Whether you or I hold on to that belief, being kind to others is good for humanity and the soul. Yes, indeed.“He that does good to another also does good to himself.” (Lucius Annaeus Seneca ( 4 BC – AD 65), also known as Seneca the Younger, was a Hispano-Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and satirist from the Silver Age of Latin literature.)