Grocery shopping can bring out the worst in people.
People go in hungry to do a mundane task that regularly ends with spending a considerable amount of money and they often lose their patience trying to find the things they want.
Unfortunately, grocery shopping frustrations are usually taken out on the cashiers at the register, workers behind the deli counter or all the people stocking the shelves.
Those workers obviously have nothing to do with someone being lost, rushed or frustrated, but they still take the brunt of the emotions.
For Redditor "SovietJohnWayne," the expressed anger crossed a line. He immediately snapped and feels it was justified.
But the condition of the customer in question left him wondering if justice may follow slightly different rules in this situation.
He shared the entire ordeal on the "Am I the A**hole (AITA)" subReddit, a place to test your judgment against the collective morals of the comment thread, and learn about any unwritten moral rules that may exist.
He begins the story by setting the scene—these are especially frustrating times for everyone.
"Backstory. I'm a black dude that works at a little grocery store. Good news nowadays because I can still work but bad because I'm EsSenTiAl and still have to put up with the public at large."
"On this particular day, I was running some freight in the baking section. Our delivery schedule has been absolutely pulverized by the pandemic so some days we'll get one or two trucks, some days none, and other days we'll get two or three days worth of deliveries at once."
"Today was the latter, so I'm out there busting my ass trying to get all this freight out onto the sales floor and I was a little on edge with how much stuff there was to do."
Backdrop in place, he introduces the offending customer.
"Along comes this woman. You could tell by looking at her that something was off, but then again, most people that shop at my store are like that.
"She just comes up to me and points at the shelf, and says, 'Gib me dat.' Said it just like that too. I look over to the shelf and pick up whatever I thought she was pointing at and just said, 'These?' "
"She got visibly upset and just refused to say anything else. She just pointed again and made a grunt. I tried again with a different thing, but no. She just pointed and kept grunting."
"Whoever she was with then came up and tried to help out by asking her what she was pointing at, she had no idea what the woman was doing either."
Apparently exhausted with the impasse, the customer chose to try a different approach.
"Out of nowhere, the first woman just blurted out that she wanted marshmallows and 'that ni****" wouldn't give me any.' "
"Without even thinking, I just perk up and ask her, 'What the f*ck did you just say?' The disabled woman starts crying almost as soon as I finish talking and the other woman starts staring daggers at me like I did something wrong."
SovietJohnWayne finally manages to leave the customer and get back to work, but not without moral questions on his mind.
"Eventually I just rolled to the back and explained to a manager what went down. They said they'd just go out and finish the freight I had and I should take a break."
"So I'm conflicted here. AITA for losing my cool on a disabled woman who called me a strong racial slur?"
"Obviously I don't stand for anyone doing it but should I have cut her some slack for being disabled?"
The Reddit thread offered resounding support for his response to her racist comment.
The responses did take into account her condition, but refused to let that be a reason to give her a pass.
"Disabled or not she knew enough to call a black person that word. she had it coming and can't blame her disability for being a racist." -- 5dollar_footjob
"I don't know what kind of disability she has, but none of them make that language okay. The woman with her sucks too." -- vatoniolo
"If she knows how to use a racial slur, she should know how to ask for marshmallows."
"Seriously, if she would have just asked for the marshmallows in the first place, nothing would have happened." -- ExternalSpeaker9
"You were actively helping her and she verbally attacked you. You're allowed to stand up for yourself." -- tadaitsdana
"If she's offended by your remarks than she should know that racial slurs aren't appropriate." -- EccentricKnight
"Disability is no excuse for such an ugly, vile word." -- jessamacca
Some comments did take a slightly more sympathetic approach.
Though ultimately concluded that he was in the right for responding in the shocked way he did.
"It actually sounds like this woman may have been very low functioning."
"Despite that, if she had an aide with her, the aide should have told her that we don't use certain words because they are degrading and hurtful. The aide should also have apologized to you, not given you the evil eye!" -- mjw217
"I don't blame you for your instant reaction. Who knows what level of understanding or intent the disabled woman had, so she might not be an a**."
"The thing is, people don't just magically start using racist language. She must be around someone that taught it to her and it's my guess that someone was with her." -- KaijuAlert
"If she is disabled, she may be not being deliberately racist, but you have all the right to be pissed when hearing that." -- duartem1618
All hot takes aside, one thing is for sure. This guy and all the grocery store workers showing up throughout the pandemic deserve far more calm "thank you's" than yelled insults and slurs.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the AITA link below.*
The book The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't And Why is available here.