Second Class Citizen

When he backed me

up against the tree

inching towards me

menacingly

with his big powerful car

I couldn’t believe

what was happening.

I was holding the space

for a car full of dogs

waiting to park

just behind him.

 

He got out of the car

and I said

You can’t do this

this spot is taken.

Six feet tall, he sneered

You can’t save spaces

in a parking lot.

 

I have two dogs

and they won’t allow

them in the store –

it’s too hot in the sun

I need this spot,

I tried to explain.

I have dogs too

the man replied.

Are they with you

I asked?

– Giving him

a chance to redeem

himself.

 

No. My dogs

are home.

Then you of

all people should know

how I feel.

He laughed,

his mouth twisted

into a grimace full of scorn,

tossed a golden mane

dismissing me.

Walked off

so full of himself

and his rights.

 

“You Bastard”

I cried out twice

as two employees,

both boys,

snickered enjoying

the fun at my expense.

One had the audacity

to tell me

I was troublemaking

in a public parking lot.

 

To them

a 73 year old

woman being driven

from a tree shaded space

while advocating

for animals and human decency

was nothing but a joke.

 

In the car

I cursed the man

flung poisoned arrows

his way,

knowing that nothing

would take away

the pain of knowing

that as a woman

and as an elder

I had less rights

than these arrogant

men and boys.

I am by virtue of my sex

a second class citizen

in a woman hating culture

that just won’t quit.

 

Working notes:

 

The encounter in the parking lot followed another that occurred when I tried to enter the store I have shopped in before with my two dogs. This time, barred at the entrance, I was asked if my dogs were service dogs. When I said they were I was interrogated. What was my problem? I suffer from PTSD I told them and these dogs are my support system. All this was true. “An emotional problem doesn’t classify as a reason to enter the store with animals.” What?????

 

You can be sure that if I was an ex-military man accompanied by dogs who said he suffered from PTSD no one would have barred him from the store.

 

To be singled out as a “second class citizen” twice in one day because I am a woman diminished me as a human being against my own will. Old wounds surfaced. I am full of holes that I cannot repair because lack of accountability on another’s part ensures that shame will once again attach itself to me.