Friday, August 22, 2014

What Would You Do?

I love me some Wonder Woman, and this is how I felt. I am not, however,
equating myself to Wonder Woman. I couldn't fill her bustier.
I had one of those moments today. One of those moments where you have to decide what you're going to do, and how you're going to react. One of those moments that you think about, but you really don't know what you'll do until you're there.

I was getting my gas at Sam's Club. There's a sweet attendant who's often out there. An immigrant from Africa, he greets everyone, smiles, and talks to people. He keeps an eye on which places are open to direct people, and keeps things running smoothly. He is never anything but polite.

A man didn't like where he was being directed. He didn't like having to wait in line for gas like everyone else. He didn't like being told what to do. He started screaming at the attendant before he even got out of his pickup truck.

Super classy guy, by the way. He had a huge sticker on the back of the truck that said "Let Satan into your life: Hire a lawyer" He must be super fun to have at parties.

As he pulled up, he jumped out of his vehicle, still screaming at the attendant. "F*ck you, you mother f*cker, you don't tell me where to go. Who the f*ck do you think you are? Get the f*ck out of my way!" and so on and so forth. A raging stream of expletives spewed from this man's mouth as he physically cornered the attendant by the pump.

I have no idea who this man is. I have no idea what he's going to do. I'm suddenly aware that he could make absolutely any decision. He could assault the attendant. If he's angry, he could take it out on other customers.

He could be armed.

I got out of the van. I moved around so that I was closer (they were at the next island to me). I wanted a clear line of sight so that I could report whatever I saw. I wanted access should I need to step in and help stop an altercation.

Looking back I do not believe that I actually would have been able to stop a physical fight. But I knew in that moment that I was not going to let this man continue to bully or abuse the attendant without being challenged.

I looked around and realized that I was not alone. Other customers were coming closer as well, I really think we were all ready to protect the sweet guy who never has anything for us but a smile and a wave.

Abusive pickup truck guy yelled at a woman close by. You know, because he's being an asshole, clearly she should be ashamed for noticing. It's a common bully tactic, to lash out and abuse other people that might be coming to help. But no one was stopping.

The string of foul coming from his mouth, never so much as paused. The attendant radioed into the store for a call to the police. The man got in his truck and left. But he still never stopped yelling.

"You're not a f*cking American. Go back to f*cking Africa! Get the f*ck out of my country!"

As he sped off, I could see the attendant was shaken. He looked at me and I told him, "Just so you know, he doesn't speak for this American. I'd rather have you than him in my country." He smiled at me, like he always does. He told me that he knew that, and that he wasn't going to let that man get to him.

Then he walked back to continue his work. The other customers and I all seemed to be equally shaken by the experience. We've all read stories where the bully wasn't scared away. I wondered how the outcome could have gone.

At the same time, I was really proud of those who were there with me. We never got to the point where we had to step in, but we were ready. We weren't going to let him be victimized, alone.

Maybe if my kids had been there, I would have been more cautious. But I'm somewhat gratified that when it came down to it, my thought really was, "Oh, hell no. That man is not going to treat him like that." and I wasn't alone.

I'm still angry that someone kind was abused for doing their job. Especially by someone who seemed to think he was superior just by virtue of having being born white in America.

I'm guessing Pickup Truck Dude has absolutely no idea how much America means to an immigrant who has come here looking for a better life. It's been my experience that they appreciate this country in ways that the native born don't.

I still think this country can improve. And I know that we won't be better if we don't keep confronting injustice when we see it. Even if it's just moving in on a racist at the gas station.


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