I was in the grocery store I go to almost weekly, where an old friend’s brother is the manager. I saw who I thought was Vernon, the produce guy I met the week before when I was asking the manager about some Napa cabbage. Remembering something from last week, I rolled my cart up to him and said, “We have a problem. The spicy mix sprouts I bought last week were moldy when I opened the package the next day.”
The manager had seen me by this time and was coming over. I said, “I was telling Vernon here about some moldy sprouts I got last week.” The manager looked at me and said, “That’s Michael,” and pointed to Michael’s nametag.
Well I was completely embarrassed, because it just so happens that Vernon and Michael are both of a same age, sex, race, and facial hair persuasion. In other words, they’re black, and I’m white. I thought these two guys looked exactly the same.
I wanted to say something, anything, to convey that I am not a prejudiced person, one of my best friends is black, eek, I made an embarrassing mistake. The manager tried to bail me out and said, “Yeah, all those guys in their mid-thirties look alike.” That didn’t help. I just tried to bail as best I could. Michael was really nice about it. I’m going to look at the nametag next time.