Friday, July 08, 2005

Bad Scene

Scene: HUB Mall, University of Alberta
In front of a small store front shop, selling everything from cookies to sandwiches to iced drinks.

Woman (shop-owner) : "Excuse me!"

Girl (ESL student): looks in woman's direction, she is clutching a red straw, the kind with a little spoon at the end of it

Woman: louder "EXCUSE ME!"

Girl: Turns around and takes a halting step toward woman, her face is asking "who me?"

Woman: "You can't have that."

Girl: Holds up straw to show that is all she has in her hands, says in unsure english "Oh... only straw"

Woman: "You can't have that, it is NOT free!"

Girl: She slowly walks toward the woman with a confused look on her face. "It is for drink."

Woman: "You didn't buy the drink here, you can't have that straw!"

Girl:Her face is now turning a darker colour, with fear or shame for doing something wrong and not knowing.
"So, sorry, I not know."
Handing over the straw to the Woman, who takes the straw from the girl, walks behind the counter and throws it in the trash.

Woman: "We have to pay for those you know. You can't just take one because you need one, you have to buy something."

Girl: Says nothing and walks quickly away down the narrow aisles in the mall.

Witness: me, standing close by, waiting to use the ATM... I will never buy anything at that store again.


JB said...

What an awful woman—some people can be so rude! I realize the storeowner was probably frustrated with people thinking they can take straws and napkins and stuff, but I agree that her behavior was way over the top.

I, too, have witnessed people treating ESL students/visitors as children and/or criminals. It makes me so mad when people assume ESL speakers are stupid just because they can’t speak English very well.

librarychik said...

Yes, I must say that I felt really bad for the poor girl.

It is hard to know what to do, I wanted to go and intervene or pay the woman for the silly straw.

But I took no action :-(