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Did I do the right thing confronting a racist shouty man?

(36 Posts)
Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 19:47:08

We were at the zoo queing up to ride on a miniature train. It's a maximum of 7 groups on the train to allow for social distancing, so each carriage has alternating compartments of people and then no one to adhere to SD. The rule is 1 person can que on behalf of the whole group so that the others can wait by the lake in the shade.

To clarify, it dosn't matter if you have 2 people or 12 people in your group. Only 7 groups can get on this train. As each group gets its own compartment.

The train pulled in and a big group of people started to make their way to the qué saying excuse me as 1 of their group was at the front. This didn't sit well with a couple of the families in front of me. One man was very aggressive and shouting at the group. Saying how they have been queing for ages and it's not fair and how they're not social distancing because they had to get past him in the qué to get to the front now. He was really aggressive.

I had a traumatic upbringing and was abused by men so I find confronting anyone, especially a man really really intimidating. But I did and I'm so bloody proud of myself. I calmly explained the rule. He started screaming at me about 'no it's cause of they're not social distancing and "they walked this close to my daughter and if we all catch covid' blah blah blah". I calmly said that if he was this concerned about someone passing by him, why has he come to the zoo? He didn't like this. He got really shouty and so I just kept talking, in a normal voice about how you'd need someone to talk at you for 15 mins to be at risk and not walking past you in a qué and how 'wouldn't it be better if the zoo had a gate at the top to let people in there and not through the qué of people'. He didnt like that so started screaming 'im here with my daughter, you've got a son' pointing at my toddler DS. I told him to calm down which he really didn't like, he shouted so quick and his partner joined in I have no idea what they said as it's a bit of a blur now but I caught 'dont tell me to calm down, yeah!' And 'i own my own business and had to buy ppe' 'yeah! Right then so stop talking'

So I didn't say anything else because nothing i could say would have calmed him down but I regret not saying more. I was scared at the time but have courage now! I wish I could have stared him out and said why as a man do you feel the need to scream and shout at me, a woman and child, in a zoo because someone got to ride the train before you. And repeat over and over to 'calm down' or something.

Anyway, the train left with a big group so the people closer to the front of the qué left as they didn't want to wait any longer. They walked past shouty man who didn't say a word. I'm so angry now because those people who walked past him were all white but the large group at the start were Asian so he was only concerned about social distancing from the Asian family.

I wanted to say 'oh, not worried about SD when white people walk past you then no?' but then I would have started an argument with an already aggressive man.

The management came over and I explained how it was racially motivated. When the train pulled back in, the large family from the start came over and said thank you for sticking up for them. I apologised that it happened in the first place and wished them well.

My DH says I should have got involved cause people are so unpredictable and only last week someone got stabbed at Thorpe park. I said that I wanted DS to stand up for what right in the world so I should model it but I am worried he could have attacked my DS or me if he was a crazy person. You just don't know.

My anxiety is going crazy. This was 4 hours ago, we've since come home had tea and put DS to bed but I'm still in fight/flight mode. I did the right thing didn't I? I can't believe I confronted a man. My hands are still shaking. I'm really proud of myself even though I have that annoying feeling of hindsight where I wish I'd said 'this and that' at the time but didn't. I'm in two minds in if I'd speak up if I saw this again in the future as I feel really anxious that I'm 'in trouble'

OP’s posts: |
Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 19:52:50

*My DH says I shouldn't have got involved

Sorry that ended so abruptly. What I mean is that feeling you had as a child when you were called to the head teachers office and it's that feeling of 'oh shit, I'm in trouble, ah'

I have that kind of anxious feeling I can't shake - due to my past and the fact I had a man screaming at me earlier!

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NeutralJanet Sun 02-Aug-20 19:52:53

That queueing system does sound shit to be fair, I'd be pretty pissed off if I'd waited my turn and loads of people just pushed past me too, although I wouldn't have shouted at them like he did, but I'd probably have brought it up to the staff as it does sound like there was no way they could socially distance while bypassing the queue to catch up with their group.

Twattergy Sun 02-Aug-20 19:54:37

You did the right thing. I once saw a white man by his white van shouting disgusting racist abuse at a black traffic warden. I was the only witness in an otherwise empty street . I was so angry that I ran up to him and shouted 'you are a disgrace to this country! Leave him alone!' . And i walked alongside the warden who thanked me. I never regret doing that. I saw red. People need to know that we won't tolerate this.

june2007 Sun 02-Aug-20 19:57:36

I don,t think you have evidence of it being racially motivated and I can see why he was annoyed.

Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 19:57:43

Yeah the queing system isnt great. I did try to point this out to him by saying 'wouldn't it be better if the zoo had a gate at the top to let people in there and not through the qué of people' so we could find a mutual ground and he could redirect his anger into frustration at the que.

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SmileyClare Sun 02-Aug-20 19:58:17

I wouldn't have confronted a man like that no, especially with your toddler in tow. As you found out, you can't argue with stupid aggressive bigots, they won't change.

That said, you wanted to speak up for what was right and I'm sorry you're feeling so anxious. Try not to keep replaying it in your mind and maybe have a relaxing bath, read a gripping book or watch a film or something? I don't know if you have any techniques to deal with your anxiety but don't forget those smile

Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 20:00:28

I feel it was racially motivated as he only kicked off when a family of Asian people walked past him but when several white families walked past him he didn't say a word.

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Jamhandprints Sun 02-Aug-20 20:01:07

I once did this to a man on a train who was whispering diagusting insults to his wife. I felt really shaken afterwards too but sometimes you just need to say something. flowers

Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 20:02:51

Thanks @SmileyClare talking about it helps so here I am lol! It helps me to process and 'get over it'

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june2007 Sun 02-Aug-20 20:03:19

Perhaps he didn,t say anything as he had already said his piece???. And you said the first group was a big group. (could have been racist but I don,t think there is enough evidence for that.)

Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 20:09:30

That's a good point @june2007 and could well be true but I just feel in my gut, having been there, it was racially motivated because he didn't like seeing the large group, of mainly ladies wearing hijabs being allowed on the train before him. I could see him and his wife, plus the family behind them rolling their eyes and tuting. Again not enough evidence to say it was racist but I really feel it was.

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Mads123 Sun 02-Aug-20 20:09:42

I also don't feel it was racially motivated, he didn't shout at the white people walking past because they were leaving the queue not joining it in front of him. He shouldn't of shouted but I think I would of got frustrated, and I don't think I would of confronted him with a toddler in tow.

Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 20:19:52

The white families leaving the queue had to walk past him to get out, in the exact same place the first family had to walk past him to get in so all the groups who entered/left the queue were in the same proximity to him for the same amount of time but becausw he only had an issue with the Asian people who got too close, is the reason I feel it was racially motivated, @Mads123, please can I ask why you would not confront him?

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spudlike1 Sun 02-Aug-20 20:22:21

You are a Brilliant Person !!! Thankyou xxx

OnceUponAMidnightBeery Sun 02-Aug-20 20:24:35

Mads123

I also don't feel it was racially motivated, he didn't shout at the white people walking past because they were leaving the queue not joining it in front of him. He shouldn't of shouted but I think I would of got frustrated, and I don't think I would of confronted him with a toddler in tow.

Surely they were still walking past him and his daughter though? In the same space/social distance the previous family had walked through? Apologies if I’ve misread, but seems like he only had a problem with one group...

Tlollj Sun 02-Aug-20 20:27:27

Queue

OnceUponAMidnightBeery Sun 02-Aug-20 20:28:49

Hileni

The white families leaving the queue had to walk past him to get out, in the exact same place the first family had to walk past him to get in so all the groups who entered/left the queue were in the same proximity to him for the same amount of time but becausw he only had an issue with the Asian people who got too close, is the reason I feel it was racially motivated, *@Mads123*, please can I ask why you would not confront him?

Sorry OP, my typing is too slow so cross posted. I hope I’d do the same thing as you

OnceUponAMidnightBeery Sun 02-Aug-20 20:33:00

Shouldn’t have, not shouldn’t of

reveals self as pedantic arse, NC again

Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 20:33:56

Tlollj thanks for your input everyday is a schools day! (I was wondering why my phone kept putting the accent on the 'e' in qué) grin

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Hileni Sun 02-Aug-20 20:37:17

Shouldn’t have, not shouldn’t of blush oh dear god. And I forgot the full stop after 'input' for Tlollj's reply. blush oh dear god. blush ...well I'm not anxious about shouty man anymore! Hahaha!

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Newjez Sun 02-Aug-20 20:40:03

Well done.

I'm Australian, and I always have a go when something needs to be said. My partner hates it. She's very southern English and will just tut.

I much prefer a more confrontational approach.

HeronLanyon Sun 02-Aug-20 20:47:18

It may have been racially motivated but it could also have been that at incident 1 he was enraged and by incident 2 he had calmed down.

Don’t worry.

Even if you did do ‘the wrong thing’ - nothing happened so not sure why you are anxious. I don’t think you did the wrong thing. I wouldn’t have done it because i don’t think it’s clear and I would need to be sure before I accused someone of being racist.

Have a good rest of the evening.

Notredamn Sun 02-Aug-20 20:57:49

He was pissed off because the family nabbed what he saw as his place in the queue and because no one was socially distancing. Was he being racist, did you say?
You saying to him 'why did you come to a zoo if you're bothered about social distancing?' (paraphrased) was a smart arse remark as most people do abide by the rules in public and probably expect others to. Just because you kept your voice low doesn't mean you weren't winding him up.
Provoking volatile people in public isn't the wisest thing to do especially if your anxiety is bad. I'd question if it was worth it.
I always speak up against racism personally though. When I hear it, I can't let it pass by unchallenged.

SorenLorensonsInvisibleFriend Sun 02-Aug-20 21:08:10

More than anything, trust your own instincts. If you felt he was racist, he likely was being so. But you didn't overtly call him on it, so it's not something you have to worry over.

Also, you did try to redirect his rage with diplomacy, and absorbed some of it instead of leaving an innocent family to be the sole victims. You wanted to set an example to your son of how you believe people should behave - standing up for others. How would you feel if this was a reverse, if it was he who had done this in the future? Proud? If so, then do take a moment to be proud of yourself.

It's quite understandable to feel overwhelmed and a bit in shock afterwards! But, again, trust your instincts - only you were there and you know whether or not it was the right thing to do. We may have a lot of interventions to make in the future as we seem to be moving towards a less tolerant and more divisive society so acting in the spirit of encouraging humanity and trying to stop a tirade of abuse may be something we have to get used to. Well done for leading the way.

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