As a part of our residency program, we spend some time at a community hospital.
The best part about working in that area is the diversity of the patient population and the great food in the area. Hands down the worse part is the commute. But we are lucky to have free shuttles that bring us back and forth between hospitals.
It was my first time rotating at the community hospital, and the way my pockets are set up, I planned to take full advantage of the shuttle service.
That day, the bus driver, a middle aged black man walks onto the bus and proceeds to to stare at me strangely.
"I've never seen you before." He announces to the whole bus. Mind you, it's one of those Access-A-Ride buses so everyone is watching. He walks over to me to get a better glimpse. He proceeds.
"You a nurse?! Cuz nurses ain't supposed to ride this bus, only doctors and students"
Now if you know me, you know I get called nurse once a day. So I make sure my ID is visible, which clearly states PHYSICIAN in big pink letters. I am also wearing blue scrubs, not the usual teal scrubs that all the nurses are required to wear. So when he felt the need to roll up on me like he ain't have no sense I had words for him.
"No I'm not a nurse, I'm a DOCTOR. And I work at the main campus so I don't take this shuttle often, so I see why you could be confused." I flashed him my ID badge and could see the embarrassment cross his face.
"Oh ok, I just had to ask because I've never seen you before." He tried to justify his actions.
You didn't ask anybody else.
All these other people and you felt the need to G check me ?
"Well now you know..." I replied with all the black girl attitude I had. I probably rolled my eyes and neck and did a hand gesture to make it clear that he TRIED IT.
I was fuming the whole ride back to the main campus. And began dissecting the whole situation. Was it cuz I was black? That didn't seem like the reason cuz he was black too. Was it cuz I was a woman? But there were other women on the bus too and he didn't question them. Or was it the deadly combination of being both BLACK and being a WOMAN that threw him off? Because black women can't be doctors??
When he said he hadn't seen ME before did he mean a black woman doctor? All these thoughts ran through my head.
I could tell he felt bad because the whole ride, he glanced at me in his rear view mirror and saw the anger smathered across my face (if you know me you know I can't hide my emotions, my face tells it all). He tried to shoot an occasional smile to smooth things over, but the damage had already been done.
When we finally got to our destination, I snatched my stuff and began storming off the bus.
"When I'ma see you again." He smiled and spoke colloquially.
"No time soon." I snapped and walked away.
Flash forward to today. I'm back at the community hospital and back on the shuttle. And guess who the driver is?
He gets comfortable in his seat and puts on his seat belt and adjusts his rear view mirror, as all the passangers sit down. He looks up and sees my face.
"What's up Doc!" He shouts so the whole bus could hear. I smile. He got it right this time.