He was angry.
He was assertive.
He was entirely appropriate.
Yet he was dismissed.
Yesterday we were having a slow day. Just back from a week on the road, we weren't up to much. We headed out to spend an hour or so at the museum and then stopped for lunch. We were in the line up behind a couple with two children who were, themselves, behind a fellow, about thirty, with Down Syndrome. The man with Down Syndrome was carefully counting out the money for the cashier when one of the kids, impatient with the wait, called him a 'retard'.
His face flushed.
He gritted his teeth.
My heart stopped.
He gave the money to the cashier and waited for the change. She looked mortified. The parents stood there, their silence approved of their child's statement. They were, like their children in an HURRY FOR GOD SAKE. After the change had been carefully tucked away in his wallet he turned to the child who had called him a name. I could see him working up the will to say something. Then he did.
'I don't like to be called names. That is a very bad word. You shouldn't call people names like that.'
They ignored him.
Simply ignored him.
He picked up his tray and went on his way, walking with as much dignity as he could muster. After he was gone the mother turned to me, sitting in my wheelchair with a look of either disgust or disapproval on my face - they look similar. She said, defensively, 'He doesn't understand, it doesn't mean anything.'
I simply said, 'Trouble is, you won't admit that it does.'
She tried to say something more and I simply put up my hand signalling her to stop, I had no desire to have this conversation. They paid and left. Walking with as much dignity as they could muster.
Which wasn't much.