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I just got more than I bargained for at the grocery store.

My daughter and I walked up to the door just as a lady and her son were getting out of a cab. While I was grabbing a cart, the lady stormed into the cart bay, shouting “if you’re going to live in this country, you should learn to speak English!”

I wasn’t sure who she was talking to, but since our local Winco has customers from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, it could have been one of several people within shouting distance.

Evidently, I’d forgotten my mouth filter, because I burst out with a “WHAT?!”

She looked at me and said, “I was talking to my son.”

Realizing now that I had spoken out loud, I replied “Well, that’s very rude talk,” and turned away with the cart. She continued talking, saying something about the cab driver, and that she was sorry to offend me, especially in front of my little girl, but…

We kept walking, and I hoped we wouldn’t see her inside the store.

Of course, we did run into each other again, in the dairy section. I didn’t see her coming; she approached me, and calmly said, “I want to apologize. I shouldn’t have said that. I was just really upset; that’s wasn’t me.” She explained that the cab driver had wanted to drop her off down by the street instead of at the door of the store, and she’s disabled and can’t walk far, so that’s really not OK. And his not speaking good English didn’t help the situation.

I nodded, and said, “I would be really upset about that, too.”  And then she apologized to my daughter too, reiterating that she shouldn’t have said that.

I thanked her, and we moved on again. And then as we left the store, she was outside waiting for another cab, and she waved cheerily and said “Have a nice day!”

I’m not sure what the lesson is here. Maybe just that it’s worth speaking out? I’ve had other experiences in which speaking out just made the person angrier. In this instance, it actually worked.