Today while at work I was helping a customer who knew very little English. I was helping him to the best of my abilities and my limited Spanish speaking skills came out to play. During our interaction we were both laughing; him at my broken Spanish and me at myself because I knew I sounded absolutely silly. I of course had no problem risking looking stupid if it meant that maybe I could communicate with the customer a little better and make him feel more at ease as he appeared to be embarrassed at his broken English.
After the transaction was complete I wished him a good weekend in Spanish and off he went about his day. I didn’t think anything of it as this isn’t anything out of the ordinary at my job. I looked up, greeted the next customer, and was instantly so shocked I was left speechless with the words that left the mouth of the new customer standing in front of me.
“Don’t you just hate when Mexicans come to America and hold up your line because they can’t even learn English?”
My mouth literally dropped. So now here I am standing there looking like I just watched a car wreck take place, stunned, trying to decide just how far I can go without losing my job. In the thirty second time gap I gave myself to respond and after a couple of awkward “I really don’t know how to be nice to you right now” laughs on my part I decided to take the high road. You all know what my idol Michelle Obama says: “When they go low, we go high.”
Those words echoed in my mind as I replied “Not really sir. I would imagine if I were in a country that didn’t speak my native language I’d hope there would be someone kind and patient enough to want to help me.” The idiot didn’t stop there, oh no. This fool insisted on digging himself into a deeper hole by mentioning Trump and “the wall.” *insert eye roll*
Now hindsight is 20/20 and I’m certain I could have responded in a plethora of different ways. But in difficult situations dealing with rather difficult people I am always brought back to Mark 12:31.
“The second is this; love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
So because I really need my job and I had this verse alongside with Michelle Obama’s voice ringing in my head I decided to just woosa it out mentally and continue helping the rambling racist customer in front of me. But it sparked a fire inside of me, both good and bad.
I’m angry, America. I’m angry we tolerate such garbage escaping the mouths of our peers. I’m angry that there are people who are so selfish that instead of thinking about how difficult it must be for this man to navigate his way through day to day tasks when most don’t speak his language they instead get frustrated about the extra two minutes they had to wait in line. I’m angry people don’t understand that there are twenty different countries whose first language is Spanish, not just Mexico. I’m angry that we have become so divided as a country (although I’m questioning if we ever really have been united at all). I’m angry about the people who support the building of the wall. I’m angry about all the people who are not willing to engage in conversations with people who differ from them in hopes to gain a better understanding and appreciation for one another.
I know I can’t persuade everyone to be better at being compassionate human beings, but I hope I can at least persuade one person. Next time you find yourself frustrated because someone doesn’t speak your language try to picture yourself in their shoes for a brief moment. Some of the hardest-working, most compassionate, intelligent people I know came to America from foreign countries, speaking foreign languages. That is what makes America so great, the diversity it holds. If only we could all learn from each other and work together. Can you imagine the America we would have then?
I’m stepping off my soap box now, but spread more love and less hate ya’ll! Be kind, be patient, be compassionate, and always try to be a little more understanding.
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