I was at a local shop today, and I came across an important concept from a place of deep humiliation and hurt. Yes, I am going to share a very vulnerable story with you all so sit back and prepare for my, sadly, uncommon turn of events.
I feel like after this whole pandemic situation, people are starting to go back to life in somewhat of a more normal state, and their tolerance for patience, kindness and respect have gone down a touch. I’m hoping this isn’t too pessimistic a world view (as in general, I tend to be quite positive when I look at the ‘human condition’ and possibility for redemption).
While at a store, however, I was reminded that words matter. They can hurt, they can sting and cut at someone. They can be the difference in someone’s day being good to bad (or vice versa), and they can be spiteful, and stick with someone for years – if not, an entire life.
I try to make sure my words are positive – because words can also bring joy, peace, fulfilment, acceptance, love, kindness and shift your perspective.
This instance, was not the latter – it was in fact, the former.
Queues these days can sometimes appear complicated – because of ‘social distancing’ we are forced to make sure we stay at arms length. This leads to confusion on occasion, with WHERE a line begins, and ends. This was such an occasion.
I entered a store where the line was marked with those ‘keep 1.5 meters away’ spots on the floor. The shelves behind that line, were filled with objects you could peruse, and talk with staff about purchasing whatever took your fancy. As I entered the store, I saw where I thought the line began, and where a group of people were chatting away – quite a fair distance from the line, and Certainly several of those helpful ‘spots’ away from the woman at the front of the counter. So, I went with it and moved behind her in what I was sure was the line.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Now, i’m not a rude individual. I go out of my way to be polite, courteous and kind to everyone – regardless of if they have decided that today isn’t their day for patience.
However, the gentleman behind me had clearly decided that today was not his day for patience and kindness.
I don’t like making scenes, so when I heard the man behind me comment to his friend that I was ‘pretending to be ignorant’ after pushing in line, I stood still in utter Shock. I was not only taken aback that he had ASSUMED my intention was to push in line and pretend I didn’t realise, but also that instead of tapping me on the shoulder (without actually touching my shoulder of course – that 1.5 meter rule!) and saying ‘excuse me, the line is actually back there’. No. He chose to instead, passive aggressively tear me down, and try to humiliate me.
When I first heard the comment I thought, surely he wasn’t referring to me. I was, after all, not trying to be rude or push in line – and had no problem waiting my turn. Nope, I must have been mistaken. When it happened a SECOND time with another of his friends, this time I was sure. He had meant me.
But, how could he mean me? Surely he had to realise that him standing WAY out of the line with several friends having a chat wouldn’t have looked like he was actually in line, shouldn’t he? No. He had clearly decided that I was just rude, and pretending not to notice him.
Ordinarily, I would have turned around and apologised, then moved down the line – but this was different. He had Completely and utterly humiliated me, past a point where I for-see having enough dignity to be able to correct my very honest, mistake.
Because that’s what it was; a mistake.
You can’t assume somebody’s intentions.
You can hear their words and see their actions, but only they know what the intent was behind those words or actions.
When you say words that you know are going to hurt somebody, my question is why? Why wouldn’t you just kindly pull that person aside (be it a stranger in a store, or a family member, friend or work colleague) and point out a mistake, inconsistency or comment/action they may not even be aware of.
Okay, perhaps I let this man’s actions affect me a little more than they needed to. But when you’re humiliated and hurt beyond a point of possibility to correct mistakes, isn’t that wrong? Shouldn’t it be everyones mission/goal to spread positivity, instead of negativity and hurtful comments?
Next time, maybe i’ll just send someone else to do my shopping for me.
Or maybe i’ll go in with a more cautious eye as to whoever is also shopping around me.
But, should I really have to approach something this way? We should be more aware of what we say, and how that will affect others. Like it or not, what you say has meaning to someone else – and it can be hurtful.
What are your thoughts? Do you find that people are being downright rude these days? What about their words, are they being kind to people around them?
Stay kind, and stay safe.