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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
A couple of hours ago, I got out of my car to pump gas at a station just beyond Seattle. As I lifted the nozzle, a vehicle nearby honked and I jerked my head up. I saw a car pull up on the other side of my pump; the driver was an older Asian woman. Behind her car was the pick-up that had honked at her.
A middle-aged white man got out of the truck, saying something that ended with "supposed to pull up, stupid!"
I jumped in immediately, offering a sarcastic, "You're a charmer." He replied, "Thanks."
There was no more bravado, as he carefully avoided my gaze for the duration. I don't know whether the woman was aware of any of this. She pumped her gas, and I dilly-dallied by using the squeegee on my windows.
They certainly needed it.
All I knew in that moment was, if this fella intended to Asian-bash, I was going to make it very hard for him.
Eventually they both pulled away, so I did, too. Later, as the adrenaline evaporated, I wondered if I'd done the wrong thing. My automatic instinct was to protect the woman, but I'd run the risk of escalating things by putting him down. Could I have defused the situation in some way? Further, he might've been armed or insane. Or armed AND insane.
It's so hard to know what to do when an ugly incident breaks out in front of you. At least on this occasion the woman departed unscathed, the man was put on notice and my windows are cleaner than they've been all summer.