Posts Tagged ‘strange conversations’


“White people don’t use hair oil.”

February 27, 2008

I work at one of the import chains that has not gone out of business.  We have an eclectic mix of employees:  Bolivian, Peruvian, Iowan, Ethiopian, etc.  Sometimes cultural differences jump out.

Por ejemplo, the Ethiopian girl (let’s call her Amira) I work with brought me an oil infuser asking if a customer can open it and smell it.  I said no, since it would be unsaleable if the customer did not like the smell.  So, I told Amira, “Tell her it looks like…”  I look at the box, “bergamot, whatever that is.”

Amira replies, “Bergamot, like the hair oil.”

Trying to be diplomatic, I told her, “Katie and I don’t use hair oil, Amira.”

Looking confused, Amira asked, “Why not?”

So, I finally just blurted out, “Amira, white people don’t use hair oil.”

The two other black people in the room, both of them born and raised in the US, both started cracking up.  Amira accepted it all silently, but she sat all through her lunch break looking very bemused.  To this day, I still don’t think she completely believes that I don’t put oil in my hair.