An innocent passive comment by a bystander upsets man in line at shop

Lefty Graves
People in linePhoto byAndrew LeuonUnsplash

** This article is based on nonfiction by actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.**

My daughter and I were standing in line in a store in Washington state recently when we observed some strange actions by a man that was ahead of us in line. The man had already stated that he was homeless and needed some help. He was dirty and disheveled and seemed somewhat confused.

We were about fifth or sixth in line behind this man. As the man approached the woman at the cash register, the man was asked if he wanted help out to his vehicle with his purchases. He stated that he couldn’t see the group he had arrived with and hoped that they were still outside.

Without giving it much thought, the woman behind him in line stated, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ The man turned to the woman and held his hand out as if to say ‘stop.’ Then the man said, ‘Excuse me, mam, I don’t recall you being a part of this conversation.’ The woman was speechless. An innocent comment was suddenly taken wrong, and the man seemed very assertive and aggressive in his tone.

The woman’s comment didn’t appear out of line to anyone else in line. The man’s comment was quite shocking to everyone in the store. Silence fell over the store as the man walked out the door. The lady at the cash register apologized to the woman in line. The woman in line was dumbfounded. Everyone was stunned.

It was one of those passive comments that many of us make on a daily basis. Something small said in passing is not meant to upset someone, just meant as small talk or understanding of a situation. I’ve seen the woman again several times as she lives in the town where this happened. She’s always sweet, and she still makes small talk in line. No harm was intended by her comment. It was just a simple, pleasant comment that many of us make on an average day. What do you think? Do you think my friend's comment was offensive? Do you think the man’s comment was off-base?

© Lefty Graves. 2023 All Rights Reserved.

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington State.

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