I stand at the sink in the restroom and stare into the mirror. I’m red-faced and sweating profusely. After two hours of grueling work, my display is up and ready for my private showing and selling of my handmade art jewelry at the Sarasota Yacht and Country Club.
A feeling of relief covers my face after I ask the club committee director if there is a place I can change and freshen up. She takes me to a well-equipped bathroom where I can shower and dress before the ladies arrive for the luncheon and lecture. The chatty director informs me the club’s women use the restroom after their golf games, especially if they stay for lunch.
I felt relieved to be able to shower and invigorate. It was incredible to see fluffy white towels folded and waiting for the next person to come in and use them. After a refreshing shower and a new outfit, I am ready to enter the country club to begin my lecture.
As I gather my things, an elegantly well-dressed woman enters the restroom. I turn and smile as the woman goes into one of the stalls, only to find her stepping back out rather quickly. She approaches me.
“There’s no toilet tissue in that second stall container,” she says. “Can you put some in there?”
She grumbles in an annoyed tone as she hurries off into another bathroom stall. Under her breath, she mutters, “I declare there’s no good hired help anymore?”
Flabbergasted, I ruminate on what I’ve just heard.
‘Can it be possible that she has just asked me to replace the toilet paper in an empty toilet paper holder?’
‘Yes, without a doubt, she has’.
A cold chill overtakes my body as my mind goes to places I do not want it to go. Emotions rise in me.
Why has this woman assumed I’m the hired help?
Eventually, she’s standing beside me at the bathroom sink.
Grimacing, she says disapprovingly, “Did you get the toilet tissue for that stall yet?”
Taken aback by the incredulous words she’s saying, I manage to tell her I’m not an employee at the country club. Although I’m overwhelmed by this insulting woman, I gather myself together enough to put into words that I’m the featured artist/lecturer for the luncheon.
The embarrassed woman stammers to find words to express herself. None seem to come her way. She blows a not-so-sincere apology and exits the bathroom as quickly as possible.
I stand frozen for what seems like a lifetime. Reflections of how far in the world we’ve progressed disappear in one moment. My thought keeps repeating, I am still in the days of repressive domination. This moment brought to light that nationality, color, ethnicities, and biases are still prevalent in the minds of some upper-class white people.
Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality that I did not expect on this very auspicious day. I was selected from a great many artistic jewelers to give this lecture at the country club luncheon. It was an invitation my peers had let me know they coveted.
With my shoulders back and a deep cleansing breath inhaled, I leave the restroom and head to the lecture hall. I will engage the women at the luncheon with my art form knowledge.
On shaky legs, I approached the podium after my introduction. The applause made me smile. I could see the rude woman in the group. Fidgeting in her seat allowed me to know she was uncomfortable. I felt my strength of self-worth stirring in me. She was going to remember me. I’m sure.
I finish my task of lecturing on the role of designer jewelry in the art world. Numerous women stopped by to let me know they enjoyed the lecture. Many of them gazed at and admired my one-of-a-kind jewelry designs purchasing some for their collections. Ironically, the arrogant woman bought quite a few pieces too. Perhaps, to heal her guilt.
I left that day with melancholy. Regardless of what others’ thoughts might be, I reassured myself that I will always stand proud of the power of my place in the world as a Latina woman.
Hopefully, on this day, I was be able to educate her on the proper way to treat people of any kind, even hired help.
©2022 Isadora De La Vega
All rights reserved
Isadora De La Vega…
…is president, co-founder, and designer of Copper Whimsea’s by Al, a copper wall design company, and Isadora Art Jewelry. She has been married for 57 years as of last August, and is the mother of 3 daughters, grandmother of 8, and great-grandmother of 3. In 2011, she started her blog to hone her writing skills. She never thought I=she would touch people in so many ways with her writing and images. She is grateful that she has been able to accomplish the goal she set up for herself: “Touching people’s hearts with my words.”