Your Claims Of Racism Go Up In Smoke

| Friendly | January 26, 2016

(It’s after nine pm and I decide I want ice cream and have to run to the store. I live in a pretty safe town and don’t think much of running out by myself. There aren’t too many cars at the store and I don’t park by any of them. When I come out of the store there is a mini van parked next to me. A Spanish-speaking couple are standing outside the van smoking. It should be noted that I have severe asthma and can not be anywhere near cigarette smoke. It causes my chest to tighten and my throat will feel like it’s on fire. I have actually been sent to the emergency room before due to smoke- induced asthma attacks.)

Me: *walks the long way around to my car while looking away so I don’t breathe in smoke*

Lady: *loudly, in English* “I tell you, the people in this town are all racist! They think we Mexicans are good for nothing, lazy jerks who all came here illegally. They hear two people just sitting around innocently speaking their native language and they just can’t bear to be near us.”

Man: “I agree. They just can’t handle hearing the Spanish language. They all think we’re awful people and completely avoid us and go out of their way to not be near us.”

(At this point I turn my head and see them looking directly at me. I can already feel my chest tightening, but I’m close enough to my car to open the door and grab my inhaler, so I decide to reply to their comments.)

Me: “I can’t help but think your comments are directed at me.”

Lady: “Of course they were! You were making a point of totally ignoring us!”

Man: “And just because we were speaking Spanish! We call out racists when we see them.”

Me: “I could not care less what language you were speaking. To be honest I wasn’t paying that much attention. I was avoiding you because I can’t be around cigarette smoke. I have asthma and was trying to keep breathing.”

Lady: “Likely story. Racist.”

Man: *blows smoke in my direction, making me cough* “Excuses, excuses. You’re just like every other whitey in this town.”

(At this point my chest is really tight and I am having trouble breathing. I actually need to use my inhaler. I take it out of the bag and take two puffs in clear view of the couple while they stare at me, realizing that I was telling the truth.)

Me: “Yeah. Not racist. Just trying to avoid a trip to the hospital, and yes, cigarette smoke has caused asthma attacks bad enough to need the hospital.”

(The lady quickly put out her cigarette and actually apologized for making assumptions. The man was still eyeing me suspiciously as I got in the car and drove away.)

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