Part of my problem is that I am by nature, very trusting. I assume most people will just be decent to me, so when caught in a situation where someone is being rude to me or surpassing some boundary, I stay in 'shock-mode' too long.
For example, today I was in Hyattsville, MD shopping. Every store there is run by Latinos and since I am Latina and I speak fluent Spanish I ordered my food in Spanish. The man in front of me sees me talking to my own kids in English and thought to make it his business to come over to me to tell me how he does not like it when Latinos don't speak to their kids in Spanish. He did not come off obviously confrontational, so it took me a while to figure out he was actually judging me to my face and telling me essentially that it 'bothered' him that my kids are not being spoken to in Spanish; seeing as I'm Latina. As I filled my ketchup cups and standing beside him gathering all we needed for our meal, I responded quite calmly, explaining that when you're second generation Latina, as I am, and married to non-Latino those ideals are hard to follow through as much as you'd like to.
Of course, only after I leave the store do I feel the full force of his rude comments and get mad that I did not respond more forcefully. How dare anyone come and tell me how I should be speaking to my kids?!! Is he serious? I would never think to say that to anyone? But of course, the moment has passed and I had left the store. I am left mentally kicking myself for not putting him in his rightful place and for not being able to pick up on his rudeness from the start.
I know some of you might be all about 'turning the other cheek' when it comes to dealing with rude people or rude comments. But I firmly believe rude people need to be addressed; whether the rudeness is intentional or not. I have experienced too many people who live their lives spewing caustic comments to others and no one ever tells them the degree damage caused by their words. We can only learn from our mistakes and when we don't make ourselves formally address these uncomfortable situations, we don't allow these to learn from their mistakes.
Perhaps the solution lies in being slightly more aware. I do feel that I need to be more awake to my general surroundings, especially when I'm around people and places I do not know. I will take these incidents as a calling for me to wake up and become aware when in unfamiliar surroundings.