We all say and do things in private that we wouldn’t want the world to know about. But when people start doing those things in public… there’s gonna be trouble.
This piece is based on a Quora question. Link on the last page.
1. You need to check yourself.
I was at a grocery store checkout once, and I saw these three college kids having a field day with a poor clerk who was trying to bag up their groceries. The whole thing, apparently, started when he dropped a bottle of wine they were buying. He apologized, cleaned up the mess, and rushed back to get them another bottle.
While he was gone, they started talking about what a “complete idiot” he was. They proceeded to make fun of the way he looked, the way he was dressed, his weight, his glasses, you name it. When the poor guy got back, they didn’t let up. They started insulting him right to his face, calling him a whole litany of terrible things until they had him on the verge of tears.
The kid was only about 16, and I could see how he was probably an easy target for any bully. I was bagging up my own stuff, but I was completely mesmerized by this entire exchange. Suddenly, the kid must have said something because one of the guys reached out and popped him across the face. It wasn’t a punch or a hard slap, just some wussy little pop meant to humiliate him.
To my amazement, the kid didn’t walk away. He just stood there red faced with tears welling up in his eyes. The dude reached out and popped him again. These guys were laughing like there was no tomorrow.
I had had enough. I stepped up to this college guy, pulled a 20 dollar bill out of my wallet, and told him that I would give it to them if they would hit me like that. They stared at me for a second like I had lost my mind.
I am a little over six feet tall, and I weigh around 225. I don’t consider myself to be a tough guy but, needless to say, they didn’t want any part of me. I told them to apologize. They hurried for the parking lot.
I let them leave, and then pulled the kid aside and told him to never let anyone push him around like that. He just broke down in tears and sobbed on my shoulder. It turned out that his dad had died only a year earlier, and he and his mom were all alone in the world.
I gave the kid my card, and told him to call if there was ever anything I could do for him. I never saw or heard from him again.
2. Getting his kicks.
First off, I only marginally blame the kid in this story for the incident. The parent was the rude one, not the kid. I still really didn’t like the little brat though.
I was in an airport, waiting for my layover to end. I was tired, in pain from my neck seizing up, and a bit crabby, so I put on my headphones and pulled out my tablet to watch some Netflix. Armed with my little blanket, my show, and some cookies, I was going to wait like a champ and not burst into tears at being so miserable.
And that’s when The Brat approached me.
I wanna see your iPad, he said. He couldn’t have been more than 7.
No, kid. You don’t ask strangers to play with their stuff. Now go back to your mom, I replied, probably a bit testily.
I wanna play a game! He demanded.
No! Now go back to your mother now, or I’ll drag you there! I snapped back.
That was when he kicked me in the knee (it happened to be my bad knee that was a bit sensitive, too), grabbed my cookies, and ran back to his mom.
I picked up my things, and stormed over to her. I was already in an extremely bad mood and her out of control child had just made it so much worse.
Lady, your kid just stole my cookies and kicked me. What are you going to do about it? I said, tersely.
Well, I sent him over to see if he could use your tablet to entertain himself for a bit
Unbelievable. This woman thought it would be okay to tell her child to bother a complete stranger for their expensive electronics, and then she didn’t reprimand him for stealing and kicking when he didn’t get what he wanted.
Can’t wait to see how that kid turns out. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have kids.
3. Cereal offender.
Saw a man trying to get a box of cereal off a shelf in the grocery store. Since he was in a wheelchair, he had to strain a bit to get it.
A kid (About 910 years old) came and shoved an entire line of the cereal boxes onto his lap. He then laughed as if it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. You should thank me for helping you!
Of course, the man was red in the face. Kid thought it was still funny when he walked away to his mom. The man now had to put back the rest of the boxes onto the shelf, which he couldn’t reach easily.
I tapped his mom on the shoulder to let her know what her kid had done to him. She looked at me then to him and said, Well, it’s not my child’s fault he’s handicapped! She took the kid’s hand and stormed off to another aisle.
I helped him put the boxes back onto the shelf.
4. The price is wrong.
When I was 16, I got a job selling clothes at a womens clothing store. On my first day, a middle aged woman and her teenage daughter came in to shop.
The woman picked up two tops, priced $20.00 each, tried them on in the fitting room, and decided to purchase them. I guess she didnt look at the price tag, because with taxes the purchase came to approximately $45.
When I told her the price, I saw the most disgusted look appear on her face.
She said, What a f*****g rip off, and picked up the tops from the counter and threw them in my face.
I still cant believe it, sometimes. It was so extremely mean. I was even more angry that her daughter was there to witness it. Setting those types of examples for your children to see cannot be healthy for anyone.
5. Her order sounds gross anyway.
I was in a Starbucks on the way to a train, I think last year. I had already ordered, and was waiting for the barista to make my drink. The barista addressed the woman standing near me, who had ordered first – she looked to be about 60.
Barista: Im sorry, we dont have any eggnog left for eggnog lattes. Can I get you anything else?
This customer takes about 10 seconds to respond, but before she says anything, she gets this tight-lipped grin on her face. She looked like shed just realized shed won a game and was about to play the winning card.
Customer: You know youve ruined my whole morning, dont you? This is unacceptable. You will make me TWO mocha lattes and I hope youd dont expect me to pay for my order.
Barista: Of course maam.
After another minute of making her order, the Barista says: The eggnog latte is a seasonal item, and weve actually had very few requests for it. I think thats why we dont have enough, they havent been sending us very much.
Customer: Oh just.. SHUT UP!
At this point the customers companion joined her from outside the store, and she tried to say something to the barista as if it was all fine and it was just customer bantering. But it clearly was not. I still bear some shame in not stepping in on behalf of the barista. I read comedic posting sites such as Not Always Right on a regular basis, but Id never actually seen such behavior in person before.
6. Is it so hard to have a little compassion?
My wife and I visited Japan to see our son, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Complete strangers were incredibly, overly kind – one person even went very far out of their own way to help us with directions. Though our son is fluent in Japanese, we couldn’t even navigate the basics – and each person we encountered was extremely helpful to us.
When we returned to the US, we had to go through customs and then back through security to finish our journey home. This process was obviously confusing to a Japanese man, who did not speak much, if any, English. He was very confused and obviously needed help.
A TSA agent – who I recall as short, buff, and incredibly rude – began to scream at this poor man. YOU ARENT SPECIAL! MOVE THROUGH THE LINE OR GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!
The poor man began to shake, and the TSA agent took this to mean that something must be suspicious about him.
He and three others ushered him away to presumably perform a body cavity search – all the while, the man had absolutely no idea what was going on. He had the look of abject terror on his face.
Juxtaposing the treatment we received in Japan (which is quite common) with the treatment that this gentleman received upon his arrival to the US, I can’t help but consider it rude. I wonder what he tells his friends and family about his visit, and if those stories are as pleasant about the US as ours are about Japan.
7. Hungry like a wolf.
My wife and I had decided to go out for an early Sunday dinner to a popular restaurant. There were a lot of people in the lobby waiting. Everyone was polite and waiting their turn and while they weren’t taking names, everybody was dutifully pointing out who was next as they understood who was there first.
All was going well when it was finally our turn. Just when the waiter stepped up asking, Who is next?
We started to raise our hand and this older Catholic Monsignor, who had just recently arrived, stepped right in front of us and said Right here! Then, before anyone could object, he followed the waiter closely to the waiting table being careful not to make eye contact with anyone.
I was enraged at the gall. When the waiter came back I told him what just happened and he apologized. When we walked by his table on the way to ours, I leaned over and said, Pretty slick move there buddy, what’s that about the first being last and the last being first?
He just stared at his table and never commented.
8. Post haste.
I was at a post office. This particular branch was notorious for its rude, insulting counter employees.
While I was still in the line, one of the workers called out, “Next in line.” That next customer was a very elderly man who slowly shuffled toward the counter. He wasn’t being lazy or inconsiderate; he was old, and he had trouble walking.
The employee clapped his hands loudly, several times, and yelled, “Look alive! Look alive! I don’t have all day.”
Everyone on line was shocked and appalled. I went to find the postmaster and described the incident. The man’s face became ashen, and his mouth fell agape in disbelief. He thanked me for reporting what had happened.
Good outcome — shortly after, all of the counter workers at this location were either fired or transferred and replaced with lovely people. I can’t take credit for the change; I’m guessing that there’d already been many complaints, but I think my own might have made the final difference.
I’d like to say that this isn’t my typical experience with the postal service. In general, I find postal workers to be courteous and happy to provide excellent service. This one location was a plague that needed, and finally got, an overhaul.
9. Not hot for teacher.
One day at my daughters school, her math teacher asked me into her class room. She explained my daughter was having trouble focusing in school and suggested a tutor. I agreed with that, but as I walked out she said, Have sex with me and Ill never bug you or your family again! Being the man I am I said no. I went directly to the superintendent the next morning and reported her. She now lives with her mother and does not have a job.
10. Ask a rude question…
One of my teachers in high school used to tell this (self-deprecating) story about being polite:
She was in line at a buffet at a party. The gentleman in front of her pointed to an item on the buffet and asked her what it was. She told him. He then repeated this a few more times.
She got very annoyed and asked, Are you blind?
He responded, Why, yes I am.