What would you have done?
So, I go into Subway to get lunch and I walk right up to the counter, there are no other customers in line, only other customers in the place are sitting at tables eating.
The two employees are busy with other tasks, so I stand there waiting patiently for one of them to ask me what I want.
I sense someone walk up and get behind me in line. Maybe 30 seconds later, he steps in front of me and leans on the counter and he’s fidgeting like he really wants one of the employees to notice him.
I’m thinking, maybe he just has some quick request that he doesn’t want to wait in line for, maybe they screwed up his order - I mean, surely he isn’t going to just step in front of me as if I weren’t already waiting there, to get his order in before me and not even acknowledge that that’s what he’s doing?
So - the guy is Latino - I don’t care what color someone is, what language they speak or even what they look like. I’m not that kind of guy. Even if someone’s looks raise some kind of flag in my mind, I automatically challenge that instinct. I always give people the benefit of any doubt. “Content of character” is what matters to me.
All of this to say, the guy looked ‘tough’. Not because of his skin color, but because of the neck tattoos and other things that raise those flags in my mind - he could’ve been blonde, blue-eyed and white and would’ve raised the same flags.
So, I’m still trying to tell myself, “he can’t really be trying to just blatantly cut in front of me like that…”
Finally, one of the two Latina women working behind the counter approaches and he starts ordering a sub, in Spanish.
I look at him, spread my arms and ask, “por que?” (“why”). He responds with a pretty aggressive attitude and says in Spanish, which I miraculously understood (I need to learn not to address people in their own language when I don’t understand enough of it to understand the reply), “because I was here first but I went to the bathroom to wash my hands!”
Then he steps back, gestures to the counter and says, “go ahead”.
I said (in English), “hey, if you’re in such a hurry…”
And he says, “no, go ahead”.
But he looks pissed, and despite trying not to judge books by their covers, looks like he’d love to beat the shit out of me. (I am most definitely NOT a fighter).
So, I make a concerted effort not to make any eye contact with him and just go ahead placing and receiving my order.
I’m polite and friendly as usual with the women behind the counter, I pay, take my food and leave, and there’s no further incident.
But - I can’t stop thinking about it. These kinds of interactions really get under my skin - I hate confrontations, always avoid them and always internalize these things and it starts to make me feel really misanthropic.
The way that I obsess about these things after the fact, is I imagine all the things I’d say if I weren’t afraid of getting my ass kicked, or worse.
I would’ve liked to ask the guy - “so, if you were standing where I was, waiting to place your order and I stepped in front of you and said, ‘I was here first, was just in the bathroom washing my hands’, you would’ve been fine with that?”
I just can’t understand what the guy expected to happen. Maybe he had me pegged for a pussy gringo who would let himself be walked over (which wouldn’t be far from the truth)?
What would you have done if you were in my place?
Would you have kept quiet because the guy looked scary?
Would you have said in a sarcastic tone, “no, please, you go ahead”?
Would you have been aggressive and said, “hey, wtf are you doing? You didn’t see me standing here?”
I mean, clearly I didn’t handle it ‘wrongly’, because all ended well - it’s just not at all how I wanted to handle it - my impulse was to react as in the last example I gave above.
I mean, I really don’t get it.
In the moment, I kept thinking of how to say in Spanish, “hey - I’m a nice guy. Ask her (the Latino woman behind the counter who knows me as a polite, friendly regular customer). I don’t want any problems, I don’t want to fight with you, I just don’t understand why you thought it’d be ok to just cut right in front of me.”
But I kept my mouth shut, which I think was smart, but not exactly satisfying.
Anyway, that’s me getting that off my chest.
Gotta try to move on and forget about it.
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