So, I’m at the deli section in my local supermarket the other day.
There are two clerks busily working on orders, and two people standing next to me who, I assumed, were the order-ees.
When clerk number three walked up to the front of the deli case, I started in with my order….and heard a meek little “um, excuse me? I believe I was next” from the woman standing next to me.
I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “Oh my goodness. You most certainly were. I apologize.”
Her: “since you’re already ordering, it’s okay, I can wait”.
Me: “to heck with that – you were first, please go ahead. I insist.”
As the clerk was assembling her order, she actually apologized to me! She said “I don’t know what came over me there, I usually don’t say anything at all”.
To which I replied that, yeah, she probably normally wouldn’t ever say anything but then she’d do a slow burn all the way home about the rude bimbo that pushed in line ahead of her like she wasn’t even there.
She nodded in agreement.
And I finished my short off the cuff lecture about how freeing it is when you realize that you’re capable of actually standing up for yourself with a “good on you for not being invisible anymore”.
I think I saw her stand a little straighter while we were chatting. At least I hope so.
Here’s the thing, she was right to stand up for herself – but she wasn’t a jerkwad about it.
I’ve thought about that timid little lady a few times lately as I’ve watched our national discourse become, well, coarse.
Maybe too many people – too many groups of people – have felt that they were “invisible” for too long and have decided that enough is enough and they’re going to push back. Actually standing up for yourself is a good thing. Somewhere along the way, many of my fellow Americans have confused boorish with strong, obstreperous with gallant, volume with substance.
There’s a better way, IMHO, but we’ve somehow forgotten what that is.
Don’t get me wrong, here. As a card carrying, stereotypical redheaded pitbull with lipstick, I’ve learned the hard way that just meekly letting “others” run roughshod over you can be just as stressful, if not more, than piping up and saying “hey! That’s not right!” when the situation warrants it. “If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” has been proven out time after time, interaction after interaction in my life and the only way to put a halt to it without causing WWIII is to very calmly, very firmly, just say no.
Of course, I’ll feel really bad if I find out that the lady in the store kicked a toddler out of her way in the produce section after our conversation.