You just can’t push a “Brown” around!!
This is a funny story because I know if my daughter or sisters were with me at the grocery store today; they would be snickering and crying silent tears trying to hold back their laughter watching me try to negotiate this incident.
On occasion while in Chile, I feel that some people try to challenge me in public spaces because I am a foreigner. For example, if I am waiting next in line to order my ice cream cone, someone will simply walk right in front of me like I wasn’t even there. For example, today I am in line at the caja (cashier) going to pay for my groceries (with others stand behind me waiting patiently as well) and two people decide to make an angular line with their carts so that they can cut in front of me as soon as the slightest opening presented itself. I was determined I was not going to be pushed around and would not allow even a nanometer of space between me and the behind of the lady in front of me so as not to be disrespected yet again. I had it up to my nose with folks giving me a hard time of late, and decided today was my day to stand my ground and not be the “dismissed foreigner”.
Just to give you a little background about myself, I grew up with very strong women in my life and family. Three intelligent, highly educated sisters and a daughter who is an Attorney. We were raised by an intelligent, very strong, and feisty mother who was a teacher and always encouraged us to stand-up for ourselves as a unified front or if the case required, do so on solo missions as well. Therefore, I was not going to be moved!! Then, I next started feeling convicted as a Christian because I was taking my position out of anger and not necessarily for the cause of justice. My Spanish has reached the point where I can easily tell an offender, “Discúlpame pero yo estoy a proxima”. To which in every instance to date, the person respectfully apologies and moves out of my way.
In returning to my original story, I noticed that the lane right next to me was open for shoppers with 15 items of less. I had only 4 items and Señora and Señor Rude seemed like they were gearing up for the conflict. I allowed the Holy Spirit to direct me and said, “Con permiso” and left my space in line to go to the other one. As I was moving with my cart, I noticed that the man gave me a snarky little half-smile because he could see from his position that the line was closed and that the people I saw in line were in fact the cajera’s (cashier’s) last customers. There was also a sign on the conveyor belt that read cerrada (closed). So, not only did I feel embarrassed and lose my previous position in the other line, there was another woman in the second line in front of me who took it upon herself to be the caja policía. She kept turning around (at least 3-4 times) telling me in a not so pleasant tone, “¡Está cerrada!” “¡Está cerrada!”, and one more “¡Esta cerrada!” Before she could draw her fourth instruction I responded, “Señora, yo lo sé. Estoy regresando mis cosas y saliendo.” (Ms. I know, I am return my things and leaving). That seemed to satisfy her and she finally left me alone.
Unbeknownst to me, the young man who was bagging the groceries seemed to have seen all of these events and noticed another man who was trying to bully position behind me (yes even in the closed line the rudeness continued). Again, caja policía went into action on him, “¡Está cerrada!” At least she applied her annoying self-appointed job equally. Ha ha But the young man bagging the groceries had obviously seen enough and told the man to be a gentleman and move on (or “Stand down Playa”) [my urban translation], the line was closed. That seemed to have conclude another potential problem.
When I got to the cajera, I in all sincerity was just going to leave my things there and depart. But something stirred up in me (I’m sure it was that Johnnie Elaine Brown spirit) and I told the cashier everything that had happened in Spanish concluding with, “¡No quiero a luchar!” (I don’t want to fight). We both started laughing and she gladly took my groceries and rung me out as she and the bagger bid me a pleasant evening.
She get it from her momma!
Moral of the story:
There are rude people everywhere and at the same time, really awesome folks as well who will stick up for you when you’re being wronged. This could have easily been an opportunity to plant a seed of bitterness in me that would have festered and maybe lead to a distorted negative viewpoint because of a few people that were unkind. As I continue to learn and mature as an adult, God keeps showing me the value of patience, forgiveness, and wisdom. I will never view the world the same following these experiences I am having in Chile; not just because some folks helped turn my lemons into lemonade, but because God always helps me learn how to just let things go sometimes and not allow anger, disappointment, and frustration to define me. I should and will certainly continue to demand respect, but do so out of a sense of justice and not anger. It reminds me of Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (KJV). Yeah, that’s the ticket! 🙂