I work in an amazingly large liquor store. If your credit card is going to be 206'd (denied) anywhere, it's there. Why? Because your credit card company is profiling you every day, with every purchase you make. With one swipe of a small magnetic strip, a thousand transactions are happening simultaneously and little robotic machines are go/no-go'ing a set of rules written by some actuarial expert that can capriciously decide that, since you don't ever use this card, and now all of a sudden you've spent $4.25 at a convenience store in another state, $21.50 at Target and now $124.00 at a liquor store, you're probably a criminal, grandma.
(cartoon h/t to Last of the Few.)
Every day, most people thank me for asking to see some I.D. when they present a credit card for payment. Almost everyone. If someone takes offense or is peeved by it, it will certainly be a black man. The result of such umbrage is to make me a bit more chary in asking for identification. I hope that makes black people feel safe and dignified and worthy of respect. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. I'll gladly let whomever use their credit card if it will keep me from being the target of victimized wrath. It's everywhere. It's so tiresome.
Moreover, certain items in our store are behind lock and key. They are less costly than other items, but are the most likely to be shoplifted. These items are popular with thieves. I make no judgment call on why, it just is. Apparently, if we lock up the most-stolen items, people take offense that they have to ask for a manager to make the item available to them. I am often the target of their offended sensibilities. I assure them that it is a matter of scientific calculation, much like determining which car is the most stolen car in the U.S.: the one which is easiest to steal, most appealing in the fence market, and easiest to dispose of. That is the car to whom the most anti-theft devices are sold. It's an artful defense which I came up with on the fly, but it makes sense and they are satisfied.
Because, it really does make sense.
However two days ago, a black businessman had his card 206'd and I was very apologetic, but assured him that he should check immediately with his card company as it was likely a profiled pattern that included alcohol purchase. He was unable to complete the purchase and left to make some calls.
He returned an hour later, looked for his purchase that I was holding, and smilingly offered up a, "don't ever name your child Junior!" We both laughed when I told him that that was all the advice my new mother-in-law ever offered me before I married her son, and now I understand. He related that it had been nothing but a headache for him now that his son was old enough to have credit, too many cross-references were hitting the profile.
Innocent. Explainable. Fixable without drama.
Just remember: no matter what color you are, you are being profiled, pre-judged, categorized, and likely marginalized by facts that are beyond your control. If you don't like that, you must move off the grid. To abuse those who live on the grid with you is to not understand one's place. No matter "who you know" or what sort of lofty position you think you occupy, the Grid is a plane of intersecting points of interest. You will most certainly, at some nexus, find yourself crossed up in a misunderstanding.
It's better to prepare for it like an adult.