The other night, my wife and I rode our bikes to our city's downtown area so we could have a dinner out. We're pretty much "empty nesters" now since our older son is in a sober house and our younger son is off at an amazing boarding school. So going out for dinner spontaneously is kind of a new thing for us.
While we were in the restaurant eating our meal, there was a young family sitting in a booth two away from ours. The husband and wife looked to be in their early 40s, and their two sons were maybe 9 and 11 or so. The husband had been having a negative, "humorous" conversation with the waitress about the city of Detroit, which is very close to our city. (The Detroit border is actually at the end of the block we live on, which is only about 10 houses away.)
I didn't think much of the conversation that was going on until the guy got up to go pay his bill and continued to joke with his waitress. "Yeah, that's where I go to get my heroin. Didn't you know that? I walk over there to get my fix. I pick up a couple of bags and I'm all set."
At that point, I was just shaking my head on the inside. Part of me wanted to say to the man, "You know, I'm the father of a recovering heroin addict and I find your conversation offensive." But I didn't. I just figured the guy was totally ignorant and really had no clue that what he just said offended someone in the restaurant. I mean, how could he have possibly known that he was just a few feet away from a dad whose son used to pretty much exactly what he was joking about? So I just let it go.
For the last few years I've felt pretty much the same way about people who jokingly refer to people as "crackheads." You know: someone does something stupid or crazy and someone else says, "What a crackhead!" I find that offensive, too, but I just let it roll off my back. Crackhead is just another word that people use without realizing that it may offend someone. In my mind, it's in the same league as "gay" or "retarded," two other words people often use in a derogatory, "joking" manner.
It's just ignorance. That what I keep telling myself. But that doesn't mean that ignorant people can't get my blood boiling a wee bit every once in a while.