We know about that black connection. I'd argue it's at its best when demonstrated between total strangers, like this connection transcends age, money, profession, whatever - eye contact is made you get a nod, a smile, maybe a handshake, sometimes more. When these pleasantries are exchanged as a one off, it's a beautiful thing, but when they're exchanged on a consistent basis through repeated interactions what follows isn't necessarily a friendship, but a bond of mutual respect. I'd like to give a special shout out to black service workers - custodial staff, food workers, and for the purposes of this article, metro station managers.
I see the same station manager every morning I get off at DuPont Circle for work. Over months we've graduated from passing nods to fist bumps and brief conversation. We don't know each other's names, probably don't have much at all in common other than this skin thing but last week he stopped me and decided to give me a Metro "Trip Pass". Something I'd never even heard of. Which is first of all like, y'all just been hiding these?? Whipped out like a whole ass booklet of free rides. The way y'all be charging us I didn't even think this was possible.
Regardless, I told him I didn't need it and he suggested that I hold onto it for a rainy day.
"Whenever you see me and you need one, just ask and I got you."
I still haven't used it but what a gesture, right? Just out of nowhere, and for what?? You know what I'm saying, like he doesn't owe me *anything*. It reminds me of college when after just a few weeks of showing acknowledgment and respect to the service staff of color my friends and I would get free access to the dining hall. Didn't ask for it, it just happened. One of my floor's housekeepers would make me roti and ox tail when I didn't go anywhere for the holidays. This stuff continued for four years, all because of that drive to just acknowledge them on sight. Don't gotta be friends but I see you, I get you, and thank you, just for being here. It happens today as a young professional, sometimes at lunch with a little extra here or there, sometimes I guess through a free ride on the metro. This connection is rooted in the black experience and while our daily lives and struggles are different, we both know it's possible that the only genuine show of respect we may receive today will come from someone who happens to look just like us. So let me show you that love just in case.