I’m in a foreign country. I’m sure I look out of place. It is clear that I don’t have a home field advantage. I ordered food at a restaurant. The man at the register clearly shorted me and even gave me back a different currency. Of course I knew the difference, I’ve been here ten times. I’m here to help not hurt.
I called him on it and he changed the currency but he still shorted me approximately ten dollars. When I spoke to him in English he acted like he didn’t understand. But I know they learn English from Kindergarten on.
So what should I do? Should I argue over the $10 with a crowed restaurant and lines of people behind me with a man who pretends not to understand and clearly intends to take advantage or me or send me a message. It is a losing proposition. So I took the path of least resistance this time. I did just what he hoped I would do and I got the message he intended me to get–I disrespect you. You don’t belong here and if you are here then I’m going to make you pay and show you who is the boss.
He had all the power and I didn’t want a showdown. Frankly, I had better things to do with my day than end up in an argument I was unlikely to win without making a spectacle. I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I got the message. Inside I was angry. I think he knew I knew and he dared me to speak up.
I felt taken advantage of, devalued, unappreciated and vulnerable. I’ll survive. I’ve felt this many times outside the U.S. I know I am a child of God and I don’t have to get my value from others. But the point I want to raise is that this happens often in the U.S. No, not to me but to foreigners. Some are in the U.S. legally just like I am here legally. Some happen to be undocumented. Legal or illegal isn’t the issue in how we are to treat others. All of us are children of God regardless of race, color, nationality or religion.
When people have power and a home field advantage how we handle that is a very great privilege. We can use our voice, our influence and our position to lift others up. Or we can put them down–intentionally, subtly or just by doing nothing to help.
What will you do for those around you who are are the wrong side of social power?