THE BLOG
09/02/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

At the 7-11

On my usual walk for exercise, I stopped off at the 7-11 about a mile from my house. After picking up a few packs of Lifesavers, something I can't bear to be without since quiting smoking nine years ago this month, I meandered over to the cash register to pay for the mints.

Standing in line waiting to buy a pack of Lucky Strikes, low menthol, was a robust 40th something creature with a shaved head. He was covered with tattoos from chin to toe.

"Let me get a lottery ticket,too" he told the cashier who, by the way, is from Belgrade.

His other feathered friend, with the spiked hairdo, moved closer.

"Yeah," he continued, "I'm what you call white trash," he turned rather emphatically to look at me after his announcement.

"Excuse me," I said, "were you talking to me."

"You heard me----white trash, sister."

"Is there an "h" in the word white," I asked not without curiosity.

He laughed.

"You know," I said, "it's very upsetting to hear people refer to themselves in the pejorative."

He turned to me, and said, emphatically:

"I'm trash, and proud of it. Besides, you look like the kind who gets upset easily, sister."

He managed to get my dander up with that one, so I looked at the cashier, the gent from Belgrade who, by this time, was laughing.

"Okay," I said "you've convinced me."

He scratched out his lottery ticket, grabbed his pack of cigarettes, and headed out to a predictable pick-up truck replete with barking dog, and scattered beer cans.

"The dude was right in the first place" I told the cashier who shook his head and laughed.

What I can't figure out, for the life of me, is why anyone would be proud to be called trash? Could it be a kind of populist revolt against those who are well-schooled, refined, sophisticated, and maybe not as white as they are? Maybe not as mighty white as they are. Maybe "trash" is a euphemism for white supremacy, but what a bizarre moniker.

"We all come to look for America," said my Belgrade friend, "but nobody can find it anywhere."