It's a fact that some words should just never be mentioned in polite company.
I was just innocently sitting down in the staff room, minding my own business and desperately clutching a(nother) cup of peppermint tea, as though this single action alone would blast my cold away and grant me again the ability to breathe with relative ease.
Since I'm sitting here now, still highly bunged up, I can confirm that my hopes were sadly disproved.
Ahem. Anyway. There I am, bunged up, hot mug in head, pondering whether the ginger in ginger cake was still good for colds when she said it.
I shot my head up in surprise, aghast.
"Pardon?" I asked. I felt my skin prickle coldly in anticipation of hearing the word again, in contrast to the relative warmth of the room. My whole body was suddenly on high alert. My ears tingled dangerously in disbelieve, and I'm sure I could hear the neurons firing off in my brain informing me that yes, I had heard her right. I could feel the fight or flight reflex building up within me, challenging me to stay put or grab my shoes and sprint for safety in a way that'd make Atalanta proud (no golden apple).
She repeated it again.
The 'n' word.
This word has an international history. Once uttered, it's almost compulsory to do a little subtle shuffle that takes you away from the person who said it.
I have no doubt that word has driven people to tears, a deep reflection of themselves and in some cases, baldness.
That's the power of it for you.