The scene unfolded in front of a building with the word “SuperAmerica” painted in bold red lettering. The poetic irony within the word and the events about to transpire before them was unfortunately lost on the bystanders filling up their cars with gas. I was one of them, staring in disappointment as I watched my gas purchase rise into the $60 realm while knowing that my gas guzzling 1994 Jeep Cherokee would be half empty again after the whopping 20-mile trek back home. My transaction was complete, but I received a warm message from my 21st century gas attendant to “please see cashier.” I didn’t know what was wrong as I selected the ever-convenient pay-at-the pump option, so I began to conquer the gap between The Beast and the cashier to find out.

I only made it about two steps away from my car when I was transfixed by a conversation two strangers were having about a parking space. Being the raging busybody that I am, I didn’t even pretend I was checking a newly received text on my cell phone. I stared at what was unfolding in front of me. It seemed as though a woman of Somali descent had parked her car in a fashion that was preventing another man from exiting the SuperAmerica parking lot… the way he wanted to exit. The woman, who was waiting for her daughter, was not blocking the sole exit to the parking lot. She was parked poorly, and illegally for that matter, but the man could have very easily put his Chevy Silverado in reverse, and within about 9.5 seconds been out of the parking lot and on his way to the local Klan rally or wherever he was headed. But of course, that would have been too simple. He yelled at the woman, calling her a “Muslim b-tch” and telling her to move her car immediately.

I knew I needed to do something; I needed to act on behalf of this poor woman being verbally abused by this man who represented why the U.S. is so hated in many corners of the globe. The woman’s daughter scurried back into her mother’s minivan. She was dressed in a designer T-shirt and a pair of Levi jeans with her jet-black hair in a tight ponytail. This served as a sharp contrast to the traditional black silk her mother was wearing. With her daughter now at her side, the mother ended the dispute and drove away crying hysterically while repeating three words over and over again that have resonated in my memory ever since. I can still hear her shouting “You are ignorant! You are ignorant!” never ceasing to put a chill down my spine.

This of course could only happen here in SuperAmerica. The land where we are always number one, and we can ignore the rules of grammar as long as it makes stuff look cooler. The land of the free, and the home of the brave; where we welcome every tribe nation and tongue into our comforting bosom. Unless we don’t understand them. Or they don’t do what we want. Only in SuperAmerica.

I was disappointed in my lack of action, and, questioning my manhood after watching this pig act in such a disgraceful manner, I looked around for someone to share my frustration with. I found it in a millisecond as I locked eyes with another man filling up his car. He was shaking his head in disbelief and the two of us made direct eye contact. I was so encouraged to see his reaction, to see someone else recognize this scenario as unacceptable. I finally saw some SuperHumanity amidst all of this SuperAmerica. So I did something I rarely do: I spoke to a stranger. I said to him, “Can you believe that?” He spat on the ground while keeping one hand on the green gas pump and continued to show his bewilderment as he replied, “I know, I mean go back to your own f-cking country.”

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image – Riza Nugraha