A little while ago, I was working in my hotel room when the housekeeper knocked and asked if she could come in to clean my room. I said if she didn't mind me working, I would try to stay out of her way.
She was young, Hispanic, and very polite.
As she got close to finishing, she disappeared into the hallway to get some supplies, and all of a sudden, I heard this loud male voice.
He was asking her for directions--and as it became clear that she didn't understand what he was asking, he got louder. And, frankly, abusive.
His last comment? "Jesus Christ! Nobody around here speaks English!" Then he stomped away.
This all happened very quickly--so quickly that, as I was sitting watching this encounter through the open door of my hotel room, I barely had time to make it out from behind the desk and head for the door before he was gone.
But I didn't chase him down the hall. And I wish I had. I wish I had said:
"Did that make you feel like a REAL man? To yell at a young woman who clearly didn't understand what you were asking?"
"Do you realize how hard that woman is working to feed her family? She isn't on the welfare line---she's scrubbing YOUR dirty toilet and picking YOUR dirty underwear up off the floor. She's doing work that fine, upstanding (cough, cough) white Americans like yourself won't touch with a 10-foot pole. Why don't you change places with her for a week and see if you can learn some manners?
"Did YOUR ancestors speak Escamacu or Combahee when they got here? If not, then you need to shut the fuck up."
I am clearly not a nice person to want to say such things---but I'm not a brave one, either...or I would have chased him down the hall.
Jesus wept for both of us today, I'm afraid.