Thursday, April 10, 2014

'can you repeat that?'

A couple of weeks ago during a not-so-crowded morning commute, a woman got on the train and sat down in the seat to my right. She had on a puffy faux fur coat (I assume it was fake), a jeweled ring on each of her fingers, and a permanent frown that sat easily among the wrinkles on her face.

The man on the other side of her was taking up a seat and a half, so she couldn't lean back. At 72nd, the person sitting to my left got up and exited, and the woman elbowed me and started talking in my direction. I had my headphones in and my Spotify app playing, so I removed an ear bud and said, "I'm sorry, can you repeat that?"

She sighed loudly and then raised her voice.


She drew out the last word. Enggggggg-glish.

I would've moved had she asked nicely and left the condescending tone and offensive implication out. But before I could say anything, a man across from us chimed in:

"Hey, she just answered you in perfectly clear English," he said. "Don't do that."

The woman looked taken aback and made an audible, "Ugh!" sound. I got up and decided to stand for the rest of my commute, but first thanked the man who spoke up. Perhaps he felt compelled to say something as a fellow Asian person, I'm not sure, but it was a much calmer response than the one I probably would've ended up giving.

(In case you were wondering: no, I didn't end up flipping her off before I got off the train even though I really, really wanted to.)

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