Publix grocery store in Palm Bay West, FL. That’s where it all started. We have family in Florida and we go there about 5 times a year, it’s probably my favorite place in the world. It’s a really cool place where you can see bodies of water in any direction you look. The sun was fairly bright outside but still a little cool, around 3:00 in the afternoon. “Do you want to come grocery shopping with me? I believe Dan is working today? My grandma asked from across the room. I agreed, we love Dan, he had been a family friend for quite a while.
That day, there weren’t many customers in the grocery store, it had been busier before. As normal, we went shopping and said hello to Dan. My grandmother and I were shopping at a grocery store, and I speak Serbian while I’m with her so that’s easier for her to comprehend as she doesn’t speak much English anymore. We continued walking around buying food for dinner that night. Lasagna, my favorite. A man walking by us near the checkout kept staring. I was confused and he looked angry. I let it go. Maybe he was just having a bad day I get those sometimes, I thought to myself.
He walked up to us. “Who is that Grandma?” My young self asked. “I’m not too sure hon.” whispered my grandmother. He yelled “Speak English or go back to wherever you came from, you are a disgrace to this beautiful country where you were never meant to be born, or you should at least speak the language you were born to speak… your white” He screamed several hateful words after that which left my young mind puzzled. I couldn’t understand what was happening. It replayed over and over in my mind. “Get behind me, Miha.” That’s what my grandmother told me, what made me realize how afraid she was and what showed me she was going to defend me from what was occurring. We all just kind of stared after this.
My grandma begged the man not to speak such things in front of me. “Sir, if you don’t leave right now I’m going to call the police and throw you out.” “We here do not accept hatred!” That showed me that Dan was going to help protect us from something that I still didn’t understand. As these statements were made, you could see the faces of bystanders and cashiers. You could smell the grocery store, the outdoors as the doors opened and closed automatically, the food in the store, and the hateful man’s cologne. You could hear the man shouting, Dan trying to defend us, witnesses screaming at him, and my grandmother’s words ordering me to stay behind her. It wasn’t more emotional than a physical thing, but I felt how terrified she was as I held onto my grandma as she told me to get behind her and it was like I felt every emotion flowing through her. I didn’t taste anything. I hadn’t said a thing, my throat was so dry, it was as if no words could come out no matter how hard I tried.
Dan, the store clerk/manager and acquaintance that we had known for so long, had threatened to call the police unless he left. After a lot of fussing and fighting the man eventually left. Even though the issue was over, I still didn’t know what feelings I was supposed to feel and I can’t imagine how my grandmother felt. My grandma grasped Dan tightly and said thank you immediately after the man left. Thank you, Dan! Following my grandma, I repeated, although I really had no idea what I was grateful for.
My grandma took me to the car after we left the shop. I saw her tan cheeks flustered as if she’d seen a ghost. “That man said mean words to us Grandma B, but… I stuttered…what did I do wrong, I didn’t mean to upset him.” As my Grandma put me in the backseat she said firmly, “Oh honey you didn’t do anything wrong”. While I was sitting in the back seat, she stood outside the car leaving the door open. “Honey, it wasn’t your fault what happened there, the world doesn’t like different, Miha.” She went on to tell me and show me the risks of life. She taught me that not everyone loves everyone the way they really should. “There are good people like Dan in this world, like mom, dad, me, and your brothers… as much as I hate to say that there are cruel people in this world… people like that guy in the store who hated us simply because…we’re different.” I listened carefully to the words she said, I wondered why she didn’t say me.
“Different” the word played through the rest of the day through my young impressionable mind even though I’m not completely sure why. I understood what it meant. I’ve heard it plenty of times in classes. I learned the word is more than things in school I thought it did. For everybody, the word goes. I asked her glumly as we pulled into the driveway, “Why didn’t you say me.” “What’s that?”, she asked, not understanding what I was referring to. “When you said the good people in the world you never mentioned me.” “Because you’re extraordinary Miha”, my Grandma said to me. I didn’t know what that meant, but by her facial expressions, I believe it’s good. We came into the house, put the few groceries away, and out walked my father. We had discussed the matter with him. Instantly he shouted, “We need to find that man, how dare he disrespect my family like that.” “No! My son I did not raise you to such violence,” shouted Grandma B. She explained to us that a lesson is to be learned by this and nothing is solved by violence.
I realized he just misjudged us. My grandmother came here from Serbia legally, and my parents, my siblings, and all of us were born here. So maybe if that man would’ve taken a second to know us he wouldn’t have had to hurt anyone in the store. They say that the United States is the world’s melting pot, with diversity everywhere but I didn’t see that anywhere.
That day we were misjudged, and while it took me a while to realize what happened there, I think I was influenced by it. It taught me a lot, it showed me that not everyone in this world is nice and life will throw stuff at you like hateful people or challenges that you need to conquer. I’ve noticed that not everyone in this world is going to be okay with the person you are and where you come from and that’s okay because the ones who love you care and that’s all that really matters.
Can someone look over and check my essay? Its about stereotyping/racism