After witnessing something horrible on Monday, doing nothing about it and using my job security as an excuse, I have decided that from now on I’m going to stand up for what I believe in.
I work in an A&E department, a big part of which is what’s called the Primary Urgent Care Centre or PUCC for short – more commonly known as a Walk In Centre. It’s where people can come for treatment if they don’t have a GP or haven’t been able to get a GP appointment. Unfortunately for them, there’s no appointment system, so they have to queue for the limited number of practitioners. My desk (not reception) is in the waiting area for PUCC and so I spend a lot of time in the company of very bored, very frustrated people. Rarely anything of note ever happens. It’s definitely not like on TV.
Back to what happened on Monday: I was sitting behind my desk, getting on with my work. Suddenly I heard shouting. I look up and see the antagonist of this story, a Jamaican man, standing in the queue at reception. Shouting something in another language at a morbidly obese Orthodox Jew. I thought perhaps he was fat shaming. This went on for thirty seconds and then he stopped. I later learnt he was shouting something in Hebrew about Palestine at the Jew, who I soon came to realise was also mentally handicapped.
Half an hour later I heard more shouting coming from round the corner, out of my line of sight (A&E is a big place) and just out of earshot to hear what was being said.
Soon after this the Jamaican man came round into the waiting area near my desk escorted by two security guards who made him sit down. Then they started to humour him while he unleashed another bigoted tirade.
Then another Jamaican man came over to where they were sitting and started shouting at the antagonist for “abusing my client“. Turned out the second Jamaican was the carer of the Jew I mentioned earlier. Bigot-Jamaican starts yelling back “you’re not a true Rasta” at him – I’m not sure if that’s offensive or not.
This confrontation ended with the bigot trying to shake the carer’s hand, telling him; “We need to stick together“.
Career-Jamaican refused the handshake and took his client off to another part of the waiting room, away from the bigot.
Eventually security left too.
Bigot kept at it, trying to justify his original outburst of anti-semitism by describing atrocities he’d seen on YouTube. Apparently the problems in Gaza can be solved by sporadic anti-semitic outbursts directed at random Jews.
Another gem of his was: “Racism isn’t what you think it means. It doesn’t exist. It’s just standing up for and wanting your race to be the best.”
Ergh. What a tool.
Then from nowhere he added homosexuality to his list of grievances; “The Bible says being gay is a sin“.
Not that anyone asked, but apparently “we” should be stoning anyone who’s gay.
One girl in the waiting room countered with; “well The Bible says the same thing about people who wear clothes made of two different fabrics.”
She said a few other things too, but he completely ignored her. I figured it probably wasn’t unreasonable to add misogynist to his list of flaws. I gave her a silent round of applause in my head. She’s kind of a hero of mine now. It’s definitely inappropriate to look her up on Facebook to say thank you and well done, isn’t it?
A couple of senior members of the hospital staff asked him to be quiet. But he loudly continued, directing his nonsense at no one in particular.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why he wasn’t kicked out of the hospital. It’s as simple as if someone has requested medical attention in A&E, they can’t be refused it. I presume it’s a liability thing. We have to treat everyone. I think security would have stayed if he’d turned violent, but he didn’t and as evident from earlier, they probably wouldn’t have shut him up anyway.
There’s lots more he said, he was around for a couple of hours, but it’s just painful remembering it all. So I’ll get to my point.
I’m so ashamed of myself for doing nothing. Despite my misanthropic tendencies, the only thing I really believe in is treating other people the way I like to be treated. I abhor racism and bigotry.
One more person telling him to shut up probably wouldn’t have helped. I know that if I had forcibly removed him from the hospital, I’d probably have lost my job and there’s little doubt in the struggle that would have ensued, I’d have hit him and been arrested. Still, they’re just excuses. The sense of regret and guilt I feel probably far outweigh any repercussions of actions I could have taken.
So from now on, I shall at the very least stand up for that one thing I definitely believe in. I will not give in to cowardice and fear.