Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I was at the store a couple of weeks ago with my boys. This particular store has you bag your groceries and you "rent" a shopping cart (put in a quarter, unchain your cart from the cart stand, go shopping, return your cart and retrieve your quarter).

Anyhow, as we were bagging our groceries along the counter, a man dropped his grape tomato basket onto the floor, looked 10 feet down the counter and saw my boys minding their own business. He says to them, "Boys, pick up my tomatoes for me." I just about fell over! I couldn't believe he ordered MY kids around. He obviously didn't know that that is MY job!

I looked at him and said evenly, "If you ask the cashier, I'm sure she'd let you get a fresh basket." (Of course, this is from my own experience of dropping eggs and having them replaced. Oh, and tomato and strawberry containers. Have I mentioned I can be clumsy?) He said, that he didn't mind picking them up and washing them extra well at home. He then said (whiningly), "Can't your boys help me? I have a hard time bending down and getting up."

Sidenote: I think whining is just the most terrible sound. I don't tolerate whining from my boys and I think it's even worse from an older man! It just grates on my eardrums!

I told him that he wasn't allowed to order my boys around and went back to bagging my groceries. He had picked up all of them, except one that was under the counter near us. He approached us and said, "Tell your boys to pick that tomato up for me." Isaac just jumped over and was about to pick it up. I told him to wait a moment and said to the man that he could ask, instead of tell. (I know it sounds like I'm a horrible person, but it also sounds like I'm dealing with an ill-behaved 2 or 3 year old.) He looked at me like he couldn't believe what was happening and said, "Please?" I guess it was all he could muster. Did I mention he had some sort of accent? I looked at my boys and said, "Would one of you boys please help the man with his tomato?" Isaac said he would, gave it to him and they exchanged thank-yous and you're welcomes.

On his way out of the store, he stopped his cart and said to me, "If you were an American, you would have helped me because Americans are helpful." My mouth fell open and it was my turn to look at him like I couldn't believe what was happening.

I didn't want to get into a "How American Are You Debate" so I dealt with the other issue: his rudeness. I told him that I would have been happy to help him, had he asked and been more polite. I also told him that no one orders my children to do other peoples bidding. He dismissed my comments and left the store.

Another man stopped and asked me what that disagreeable man said. I told him what had transpired and he shook his head and said, "That man was causing all sorts of trouble in line!"

As if this was not enough, there was a vagabond-ish person by the cart stand and as we (the three parties with carts previous mentioned) passed, I heard very loudly, "Go get a job!" Guess who said that? Yup, the tomato man. I thought he was speaking to me so I turned around and said loudly, "Excuse me?!" He pointed at the vagabond-ish person and said, "I was talking to him."

The second person told me as I was bringing my cart back to the cart stand, "Ma'am, I told that man exactly what I thought of him."


When we were visiting my sister's in-laws, a neighbor-family stopped by one evening and apparently, their younger children have very seldom seen Asians in their lives. When they saw my oldest (the more Asian looking one of my two children), she immediately asked if he was Chinese. My sister and I patiently explained that he is Korean, but also English, German, Lebanese, and various other nationalities. She didn't understand and continued to exclaim that he looked Chinese.

My brother-in-law came up with the best remark (albeit afterwards), "You just don't know what Koreans look like." Not with a mean intent, but factually, she just didn't know. That's one I'll have to remember. (Yes, there is a difference between Asian nationalities.)


After pondering all of the above for weeks after they happened, I began to realize something more important. Well, in stages of importance, I suppose.

Firstly, I should have reacted with more of Christ's love toward Tomato Man instead of the hackles rising on my neck and shoulders. Boy, my sinful nature gets in the way!

Secondly, I should not react so emotionally to those who are ill-informed or give in to that knee-jerk reaction, also know as my sinful nature. (That pops up, again, doesn't it?)

Thankfully, and only by the grace of God, He has called me to Himself. That matters more. His people are from EVERY nation, EVERY tribe, EVERY kindred, and EVERY tongue. In the presence of His people, I won't be discriminated against based on what I look like or what my nationality is.

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” - John 1:12-13

"... and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Revelations 5:9


nenners said...

first of all... a great big ((HUG)) ... the way people discriminate sometimes absolutely blows my mind. but also, a ((THANK YOU)) for your reminders of Christ's love at the end... you're right - every tribe, every tongue, every nation... i would've had a hard time biting my tongue too.

can't wait to see you Friday!

50 toes said...

Thanks so much for sharing all of this.

First of all the Tomato Man sounds like a piece of work.

As for the woman, she sounds just ignorant.

I so want to meet you someday, I love your transparency.

Have a great day.


dcrmom said...

Wow, I can't believe that interchange, although it sounds like he was a piece of work.