As an introvert I am always taken back by the things people will say to a complete stranger. I like to observe, understand the personalities and intentions of the people around me; then I think carefully about my words and how those words will impact others. I know that everyone comes from different walks in life, have different experiences, different beliefs, unique points of view, and topics that are deeply personal and sensitive for them. I TRY not to hurt other people’s feelings, well unless I am truly trying to be a jerk; my unkind words are thought out too. I have heard a lot of rants about how “tired everyone is of being politically correct”. Based on my personal observations, the people who say they are “tired of being politically correct” are just mad that people are calling them out when they are being ass holes. Is it just me, or lately have people been more comfortable with being blatant, loud mouthed, jerks? If someone disagrees with them or says something as simple as “Yo dude, that wasn’t cool….”, they angrily respond that the other person is “too sensitive” or a “snowflake”.
I encountered one of these people this morning, a woman is clearly fed up with being “politically correct”. And the more I think about this mornings interaction the more upset I get. Not necessarily at the woman, I can’t control other people, but at myself for not responding with anything clever or witty to counter what she had to say. It all started with a 6 am trip to the grocery store to buy food things for my mini-me’s lunch. I’m not a morning person, AT ALL, I was still in my PJs with messy hair and glazed over eyes. I grabbed some Lunchables, chips, juice boxes, and yogurts and shuffled to the only check-out lane that was open in the nearly empty store. There was a 30ish year old woman, buying baby formula. I’m staring off into space as the woman checks out, the cashier is visibly irritated, but I don’t know her and just assume she hates early mornings as much as I do. The woman buying formula looks like a typical, tired mom, I’m thinking to myself how hard that would be to have a baby again versus a semi-self-sufficient preteen. I wonder how many uninterrupted hours of sleep she got the night before. The woman collects her bags and walks out of the store.
Then the cashier looks at me and snaps, “Must be nice!” Confused, I look back at her and say, “Huh?” She repeats, “It must be nice, government just paid for that formula, she got them with food stamps! I had to pay full price for mine!” I make a face at her and say, “Ummm…” She continues with her tirade, “I’m tired of seeing people get handouts, I want Trump to do what he said he was going to do and make those people work for things, no hand outs!” I frown and shake my head at her, to let her know I don’t agree with her while trying to think of what I should say. I have a million jumbled thoughts running through my head; wondering why this woman would assume I agreed with her, thinking how not cool it was that she told me the woman had bought the formula with food stamps, thought maybe the woman was buying the formula at 6 am because having to be on government assistance embarrassed her, that most people on government assistance do work, that the cashier was being unprofessional and had no right to try to degrade a complete stranger, and generally just WTF!! The only “brilliant” thing my 6 am brain could think of to say, completely deadpan, was “Well I voted for Hillary.” While slightly satisfying to see the cashier was deflated, with no one in line behind me to rant about how I am “a damn libtard” or something similar…..I wish I would have said more.
What this woman does not know about me (well a lot of things), is that growing up my parents were on government assistance. If it weren’t for WIC and food vouchers, my family of 7 would have gone hungry. We did not need assistance because my parents were lazy, my dad was active duty military, and both my parents were working 2-3 odd jobs each, on top of that to try to make ends meet. The assistance was just enough to get by, we weren’t living in luxury by any means. Our home menu was limited; white bread, big blocks of yellow cheese, milk, plain cheerios, and spaghetti. We ate so much spaghetti growing up to this day none of us will eat pasta! We also were on the free lunch program at school. We didn’t have meal cards like they have in my daughter’s school now, we had to tell the cafeteria person working the check-out, “Free lunch” and they would look us up in a book. The other kids made fun of me, for being “poor white trash” and by high school I just stopped eating at school to avoid the teasing. I understand what that feels like to have someone judging or looking down on you because you happen to have less than them. For people to make those kinds of assumptions, that if you need help it’s because you are lazy, is total BS!!
Yes, I know there are people that abuse the system, but they are few and far between. If you had any IDEA how hard it is to get any kind of government assistance, and that YES, many people who need assistance are ashamed (they don’t need your help with that), you would understand HOW few and far between those people are. Unless you personally know someone, and know they are one of those deadbeats you are talking about, it is not a fair assumption to make. Does it really take less energy to belittle someone else, than it takes to be “politically correct”? Is you being angry and blaming everyone else for your problems really going to make your life better? I just wish people would be more conscious of what they are saying, especially around strangers, not everyone shares your point of view.