Friday, November 13, 2009

Grocery Store Hero

I stood in line at the store today.  There was a confusion with a price, so the girl working at that register called the manager.  He didn't come.  There was a line up behind her getting impatient.

Now most if us in a line might be impatient, but usually we will control ourselves.  We might mutter under our breathe, but we will wait.

Not this man!  He and his wife complained, critizised, and badgered the girl about why the manager wasn't coming.  After a few minutes, the man began mocking her and pushing forward through the line to get closer to her to complain more.  He was obnoxious.

I was in a different line, so people in my line could have walked away gleeful that they had picked the right line.  In front of me was a young man with a stocking cap on shopping with his wife.  He kept looking over his shoulder at the rude man, obviously irritated.  But as the rude man pushed his way forward through the line  towards the checker complaining loudly, the stocking cap man won my heart.  With one move, he completely won my heart.

He took one step closer to the rude guy, looked him in the eye, and said, "Why don't you just leave her alone?"

Ah....  I don't often see that out in public anymore.  It seems like basic decency and sticking up for people that you are not related to has slipped away.  But it hasn't.  It still exists in people like stocking cap guy.

Then there followed several loud, angry retorts by the rude man and calm, firm replies by stocking cap guy, but with his attention firmly caught, the rude man was no longer focused on the poor checker.  He had a different opponent.

Now I am a crowd watcher, so I've learned how people respond and communicate nonverbally in situations.  I smiled, turned around so that I was side by side with stocking cap man facing rude guy face on, leaned back on the counter, smiled, and crossed my arms across my chest.  Sure enough, the guy beside me turned to a position that was clear that he had sided with us.  Stocking cap man's wife sided up to him on the other side.  Not one of us said a word.  We all smiled.  And stared at the rude guy.

He began to sweat.  He moved behind his wife.  Stocking cap guy laughed and said, "So you are going to hide behind your wife?"

He said, "It was just an opinion, and everyone is entitled to their opinion."

Stocking cap guy said, "and some of us know to keep them to ourselves."

Rude guy began to wipe off the sweat pouring off his face.  His poor wife spoke up and said, "He's sick, you know...."

He jumped on that excuse, "I'm sick....." and muttered something.

Stocking cap guy just smiled and stared at him.  Rude guy kept trickling sweat and his eyes jumped to all four of us lined up behind the cowering checker's back.  We all stared back.  He shut up, looked down, and began to fiddle with his purchases.

The line started up again, and we all moved on.  I whispered "good job" to stocking cap guy as he walked away with his wife.

It is so rare, but when I see it, it wins my heart.  I wish I could have found stocking cap guy's mom and thanked her for raising him to stick up for women.