Today's post is a serious one, unusual for me, but this has been bothering me for a while.
Saturday afternoon, January 1st, I was waiting my turn at the checkout in my neighborhood Walgreen's. I don't know what prompted the man (maybe 45-55 in age) in front of me to begin talking to the female cashier (late 60s?) about a subject that gave him an excuse to use a derogatory term for people of a certain family of nationalities. She didn't understand the term so he explained it to her. She looked over at me and I rolled my eyes. I couldn't believe he was spouting off like this in public. I thought the cashier may have been upset but no, she agreed with him! That caused him to use another term, even more degrading. He turned, smiling, to look at me as if he has said something profound and wonderful.
If my eyes had been lasers, he would have been incinerated on the spot. He did not misinterpret my disgust but rather than becoming quiet ( I knew he was too boorish to consider apologizing), he launched into a diatribe about being sick of being "politically correct" and how those people are trying to take away our God and gave his version of American history as proof of his righteousness.
He made me sick.
Arguing with someone like that is futile. I just wanted him to pay, leave, and let me do the same. The cashier kept him engaged in conversation and there were no other cashiers available. Finally that transaction ended and it was my turn. Normally I greet cashiers cheerfully but I was annoyed with her for going along with this jerk so I remained quiet until she asked if I was sober after last night (referring to New Year's Eve). She probably thought she was being pleasant and funny, but following the jerk's dialog, it offended me. I told her that question was as offensive as the previous conversation.
The cashier was not responsible for the man's opinions. Perhaps the adage of the customer being right made her agree with him, but it was a poor choice to encourage him. I would like to think these two people would not have been so insensitive in front of someone who was obviously (by appearance) from the group they were ridiculing but one cannot always tell by appearance what lineage is in your blood. Physical appearance certainly doesn't show who you love, have given birth to, been adopted by or have adopted.
I do not know what ethnicity the customer was, nor what religion he practiced, but I bet at one time that heritage was ridiculed somewhere in this country. We no longer live in isolated neighborhoods of Irish Catholics, Russian Jews, or any other narrowly defined combination of backgrounds. To say that you are tired of "political correctness" to justify your bigotry is wrong. The term "politically correct" refers to minimizing possible offenses regarding race, religion, sexuality, age and gender. To call a woman a "chick" because you've always used that term and mean no offense by it is completely different than using a racial slur said with a sneer. Use of language can evolve and terms that aren't meant to be offensive can be dropped. Attitudes like this customer's aren't as likely to evolve in his time on earth.