Saturday, July 14, 2007

Brief Yet Disturbing Moment of Bigotry

I was eating a late lunch with my husband and the Boy at my local Chili's today. As I went to the restroom to try to rinse out a stain (some Skillet Queso--yum), which had most inconveniently landed on the only white section of my otherwise black blouse, I heard someone in a stall speaking in a foreign language (Portuguese, I'd guess). Presumably on a cell phone (otherwise there are other issues going on here too deep to contemplate).

After an only partly fruitful attempt at destaining my shirt, I decided to avail myself of the faciities, too. I went into another stall, then heard a third person enter. A moment later, I heard someone mutter the word, "English." Meanwhile, the first person continued her phone conversation.

Huh, I thought to myself. (I'm especially eloquent within my mind at such moments.)

Then, I heard the mutterer flush, leave her stall, and say, loudly and clearly, "Speak English, damn it! You're in America! SPEAK ENGLISH!" She then left, because by the time I was finished, she was gone. The cell phone talker also finished and left\ without replying.

When I got out to the sinks, I was alone. And I was sorry, because I wanted to confront the Mutterer-turned-Complainer. "What is the problem?" I wanted to say. "She wasn't talking to you--she was having a private conversation. For all you know, she was a tourist. And besides, even immigrants have the right to speak their own language to themselves, for God's sake! Did YOUR family give up all [insert language here] when they were newcomers? WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?!"

But I couldn't, so I didn't. And maybe I'd have looked M-turned-C in the eyes and backed away, scared. Because her voice--so pointlessly rude and mean--didn't carry the sound of reason.

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Blogger karrie said...

Holy shit!

3:17 PM  

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