Situational context

I moved into a new apartment this past weekend.

As I sat double-parked and preparing to unload the vehicle (which has a Georgia tag), a gentleman pulled up beside me and motioned for me to roll down my window.

(I was exhausted, slightly stressed from the move, and a bit concerned that I wasn’t leaving enough room for people to pass on the left, just to give you some context.)

“Hey man, when are you going back down to Atlanta?”

I was not in the mood.

I assumed that he was a stereotypical, quick-tempered New Yorker popping off at the mouth and encouraging me to leave his fine city on account of my stellar parking.

“In two weeks!” I said, mainly to avoid further confrontation. I’m a generally laid back guy and slow to anger, but my fatigue made him a fabulous candidate for my wrath if I decided to unleash it on someone (smile).

He muttered something implying that I was blowing him off (which surprised me because I was, for what I thought might have been an obvious reason) and drove forward. As he pulled off, I noticed his Dekalb County license plate, which indicated that he was from a suburb of Atlanta.


As it turns out, he was just a nice guy making a genuine inquiry as to when I’d be making another trip back to Atlanta — a very southern thing to do, and something to which I would have responded positively under different circumstances.

Being a product of the southeast, I have a generally warm and friendly disposition. I haven’t lost that since moving to NYC in January, but I definitely temper it with some skepticism in light of my new fast-paced surroundings.

I’m glad I didn’t respond more angrily than I did, but I can’t help but wince at how I reacted. Sometimes we make decisions based on the best information available to us, and sometimes we still miss the mark.

I’ll try harder.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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