Old woman shamed in public for stealing dropped twenty dollar bill from a blind man

Mary Duncan

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*

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I have had the privilege of being a waitress for many years, and this means I have seen all types of human behavior. I have seen people at their most kind and generous, and I have seen people at their most lowly, conceited, and selfish.

Whether they are out in public or not, people will sometimes do crazy things. Once I had a woman grab my hand and stick it into her cold fish to prove to me her food was cold. Another time a man I was serving calmly stood up from from the table and began removing his clothing, and we had to call the police.

But, things like this don’t just happen at restaurants. Once, I was at the post office and I was accosted by a man because of a bumper sticker on the back of my car.

It was at this same post office that I saw one of the saddest, most poor and pathetic displays of humanity - and I had to say something about it.

Let me preface this by saying I abhor stealing and theft in any form, it’s the pettiest of crimes and the lowliest, most shameful one in my opinion. But it’s even more shameful when a theft is committed against an innocent person who some think are easy to take advantage of.

I was standing behind this older woman in line, she had to be in her eighties or early nineties, and in front of her was a young, fit looking man who happened to be blind. He wore glasses covering his eyes and carried a walking stick, it was no secret to anyone that this was a blind man in line, and while he waited patiently with the rest of us he took out his wallet. While the man was rummaging in his wallet, a twenty dollar bill fell to the floor, and he did not notice.


I noticed, however, and so did the old woman in front of me.

I watched the old woman pick up the twenty, thinking that the next thing I’d see would be her tapping the man on the arm to tell him he’d just dropped money, but no. She slipped the twenty dollar bill into her pocket and didn’t say a word. That’s when I spoke up.

“Excuse me!” I said, my voice a few octaves higher than I would have liked. The woman didn’t turn around, but I saw her body stiffen at the sound of my voice, so I said again, “Excuse me, Ma’am!”

She finally turned and looked at me with a glare.

“I think you should give back that twenty dollar bill you just put in your pocket to the man who dropped it a moment ago. I can’t have been the only to to see that, right?”

I looked behind me, and the man in line behind me nodded and gave the old woman a very disapproving, disappointed glare right back at her.

“Well,” she said with a huff. She took the twenty out of her pocket, held it in front of my face, and then opened her hand, letting it flutter to the floor.

“Well,” she said again as if she would belt out a response to me, but instead she got out of the line and hustled out of the post office without doing her business.

I picked up the twenty and said, “Excuse me,” to the blind man, and he turned to me.

“You dropped a twenty,” I said, and he held his hand out with a smile. I put the twenty in his hand and smiled back, and he thanked me.

“You didn’t have to do that, confront that woman,” he said.

“Yeah, I did,” I told him.

What would you have done?

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I write about relationships and parenting, life, society, people, and sometimes also beer.

Connecticut State
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