Saturday, October 10, 2009

Words

This week I've interacted with a lot of people with whom I would not ordinarily, for some reason. And that's a really good thing. It gives me a lot of opportunities for growth.

Yesterday, I was at a TJ Maxx looking for accessories for my new iPod, which they keep up in the check-out line, which is weird, but whatever. So I walked up to the display, not in front of the line, but parallel to the line, just to check out the display. And a woman sort of behind me said, "Some people, they just don't understand English." I'm pretty sure she was talking about me. It really took me aback. The very first words that popped into my head were, "I'm an editor!" I know. Not very snappy. But I didn't say anything at all. Partly because I've escalated those types of situations before and I know that there's very little satisfaction in it. And partly because I was just so shocked. And partly because I've been calmer lately and I just don't respond in the same ways I used to.

But my mind was racing and I got defensive. I thought to myself, well, if you ever wonder why I use language the way I do, this is it. And when I got to the car, swear, "Your Racist Friend" came on my iPod with no provocation from me.

But then I decided that that kind of ignorance and paucity of spirit brings with it its own misery. And then I thought, poverty of spirit or paucity of spirit? I decided on paucity but I really could go back to poverty at any moment. See what I mean about the language?

I also realized that at certain points of my life (and maybe some that have not yet unfolded) I have been/will be guilty of such ignorance and smallness. So that's that.

Earlier in the week, I'd had a funny run-in that could be related:

Scene: Walgreens. Barbie is checking out. I just came along for fun.
Checker: Como esta?
Me: Muy bien?
Checker: You're Filipino, right?
Me: Um, no. And that was Spanish.
Checker: I know, but it's the same, right? It's OK?
Me: Um, no.
Checker: Wait. Ni hao?
Me: Nope. Wrong again.

As I read it now, it sounds a little harsh, but I was pretty nice to that guy. I wasn't mad or anything. I've really grown, I think. As I was recounting the story to Jeffrey, I said, "You know, if you were my college boyfriend and I was telling you this story, it'd be a very different story."

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