“What’s up, Uncle G?” I was on a quick lunch. The newspaper was busy.
“Hey there, Scoops?” Uncle G peered over the top of the paper he was reading– The Advocate, by the way.
“Oh, I remember that issue,” I commented, noticing the cover page.
“You should. Sometimes you should go back and take another look,” Uncle G said in reply.
I wasn’t sure how he meant that, ’cause he was reading the Human Trafficking issue. I started to ask him, but he seemed a little grouchy, so instead I looked around for Shirley and when I caught her eye she nodded to let me know she had seen me come in. I was hungry and didn’t have much time.
“I like this paper ’cause it talks about issues more than what they call news items. Human trafficking is a serious issue. And I learned in this paper that Florida in number 3 in the number of people stolen away into human trafficking. I mean, who else is talking to black people about this stuff?”
I don’t write the features, but I tend to glow every time somebody says anything complimentary like that. Let’s me feel . . . necessary, somehow– if you know what I mean.
“Right now everything in the ‘news’ is about this election– Hillary and her emails and Donald Trump and his, his, his mouth,” Uncle G shook his head and put the paper down to take a sip of his coffee.
“Let me ask you something, young blood,” Uncle G took off his eyeglasses, reached inside his jacket pocket and pulled out his ginormous handkerchief. He began cleaning his eyeglasses. It took him sooo long. Shirley had come over and taken my lunch order before he even looked up. Finally he finished and started talking to me again as if only a second or two had passed.
“Say I have a guy I want you to hire. Say he’s a distant relative of mine.”
“Just have him call me and mention your name,” I started, but Uncle G held up the hold-on-a-minute finger.
I nodded to let him know I was following him.
“Let’s say your company used private investigators to do background checks on people who apply for jobs– you know, like the churches do when they hire a new pastor–”
“Okay,” I said slowly.
“And your investigator’s report said he had said some really nasty things about vets, and about women and even made fun of the disabled– just those three things. Would you hire him?”
“I don’t think so, Uncle G,” I said right away.
“You’re not sure?” he asked me, his eyes still staring.
“Uncle G,” I was dragging it out.
“Just answer the question,” he demanded.
“Okay, then. No, I wouldn’t,” I said, hoping our relationship wouldn’t suffer.
“What if some of the women and some of the vets who already worked for you said they liked him anyway and asked you to hire him?”
“Wouldn’t matter,” I said.
“Why not?” he asked, putting the paper down and looking at me eye-to-eye.
I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but he asked.
“Look Uncle G, it’s a matter of character,” I said. “At the end of the day I have to ask myself what kind of people I want working for me; who do I want representing the company, or representing my department. So, I’m just being honest– I wouldn’t hire him.”
“Neither would I,” he said, shocking me. “And that’s what’s so scary about this dark place America is in. They wouldn’t hire him at McDonald’s, but Donald Trump actually has a chance to become President of the United States.”
Shirley brought my food. I grabbed it and ran back to work with Uncle G’s words still ringing in my ears.