Generally speaking, I’m not the quiet sort.

Want an opinion? Sure, I can give you one. Just need to argue a topic? I’m always game. I love words and conversation.

However, there are times when I should truly think before I open my mouth and let the sentences roll out. Let me know what you think of this story.

My friend and I were leaving a hotel after attending a conference. It was a nice hotel, a Marriott if you want to know. The kind where taxis are always waiting out front to pick up departing guests. Since the hotel employee exchanged words with the taxi driver about golfing, they must have some rapport, right?

I figured we were in good hands.

Wrong.

All my friend did was ask if he liked sports. The rambling tangent began about not being from the city we were in, but from another although he left there when he was eight and moved here and on and on and on. Then the trouble began. He started to talk about African Americans being rare where he lived as a child. He was at least polite enough to use the term “black.” Being a pale white, Celtic-heritage person, I don’t think the color-word we use to describe each other is necessarily a bad thing.

However, the story was starting to go down a path that caused both of us to tense up and stare straight ahead.

My heart was pounding with anger and my brain was racing thinking: Does this idiot think just because we are Caucasian women that this is an appropriate tale for us? As the thought was finishing, he voiced an inflammatory racial slur and that was it. I told him he had to be quiet, that I couldn’t hear anything else he had to say, that those aren’t words I want in my world.

Dead silence. Good.

Until we finally got to the airport and were sitting down to lunch and my friend commented on how strange and scary that all was. That’s when I realized that we were in the desert and he could have kept driving us right by the airport and deep into the far, far away arid land and killed us simply because I told him to shut up.

Since we’re alive, I’m ecstatic that I spoke up. Do I think I made a difference in his life? Probably a slim chance of that. Might he think twice of using that language with another fare? Maybe for a short time, but I doubt if it will stick very long.

Will I think twice about speaking up again? Yes; if I’m in a situation where safety could be a consideration. Not if I’m in a safe setting, though. Given good circumstances, I’ll continue flapping my gums and letting what comes out, come out.

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Read: Travel doesn’t always go smoothly