Sunday, August 10, 2008


Trapped. The dictionary defines it as being in a situation from which it is difficult to escape and in which somebody feels confined, restricted, or in somebody else’s power.

My husband and I were cruising peacefully along Jefferson Street yesterday towards the east of Winnipeg. Ever a defensive driver, Ronny was alert and vigilant of the traffic signs and conscious of the rush of vehicles in our way.

We were about to turn a left curve in an intersection when the amber traffic light flashed repeatedly before us. Ronny then slowed down and stopped in the designated area to pave the way for the other vehicles.

After crossing the intersection about 500 meters away, we heard a vehicle honking from somewhere. We dismissed it as probably a machine defect or something in the car behind us. But the honking repeated, forcing me to look closely to the lone vehicle following us to ascertain what was wrong. I thought maybe our tires were flat, or our hood was left open. By this time, Ronny has started to reduce the speed and was preparing to pull over.

Another very loud honking followed and before we knew it, the vehicle behind us has already made a swift overtake. When it was almost adjacent to ours, the male Caucasian (probably in his thirties) seated next to the driver suddenly thrust his head out and made a “f--k you” sign with his finger and shouted something like “you stupid Asians, better clear the way!” Then they quickly sped off.

Such brazen display of arrogance and rudeness! What have we done wrong? We reviewed the events that recently transpired to see if we violated any traffic sign or had been discourteous to them in any manner. We couldn’t recall any and I ended up suggesting that may be we were in such a slow irritating speed. Ronny corrected that we were very well within the speed limit and reasoned out that assuming that my conclusion is true, the other vehicle could easily make a cut without the need to honk given that the road was very clear.

Having realized what was just done to us, I started to get angry. Furious is a better term. It was racial discrimination, plain and simple. What right do these people have to treat us that way? Just because they are whites and we are Asians doesn’t mean that they have a license to call us names. Do they think of us as second-class citizens or an inferior race that can easily be trampled upon?

I felt an injustice of some sort was done and a part of me wanted to get even. I even urged Ronny to drive faster so we can run after the vehicle and then take my sweet revenge. But thankfully, the vehicle was nowhere in sight (or I would have done something that I will certainly regret later). I was left nursing my wounded ego and to appease myself, I resorted to cursing them and calling them names as well.

And then I froze. I realized what I was doing. By calling them names, by cursing them, I was debasing myself. I was no different. I don’t even know them, they have been out of my life as quickly as they came in, and yet they continued to still affect me several minutes later. And that is because I allowed them to exert such powerful impact on me that they were actually dictating how I should feel.

That was when I released them and even bid them peace. And when I did, I felt sorry for them. Beyond that, I felt good that I liberated myself from the trap. Several minutes later, I have already forgotten about the incident. And the rest of the day went on smoothly.

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