Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh! The Bullies!

... Of a grown-up kind!

Can I rant and rail for just a minute? I am sick and tired of telling my children how to behave and how not to be a bully and then watching them get shoved aside by the adults who were allowed to grow up and remain that way - sometimes for 30, 40, 50 or even 80 years! People who, for whatever reason, have been accommodated in their demands and rudeness, often because we are afraid and don't want to face their wrath and anger.

Take these examples that I have seen of late:

This one is actually a little older - from about two years ago: In the grocery store, a large man was with a woman in an electric cart. The woman was taking a rather long time to decide on her produce, but in the meantime, her cart was blocking the entrance to that section of the produce area. Another lady was waiting to get by - I was also waiting, but ultimately decided what I wanted was not worth the wait and began to move on to the rest of my grocery list. The second lady waited several minutes and finally, politely said, "Excuse me, please."

The man immediately began to berate her in a rather loud voice (I don't know that he was shouting so much as that was just his normal tone, more or less.) He railed against her about how his companion was handicapped and can't she see that?! And informed her that she just needed to wait while his friend picked her produce out. I do not blame the woman in the motorized cart at all, really, she looked up at the sound of his voice and was rather confused as she asked, "What's the matter? What's going on?" and was told by the man not to worry about it and that he had everything taken care of.

The second woman, who had been very polite, moved off - embarrassed and ashamed at having been yelled at and lectured by this man in front of a large number of people. Sad to say, no one else was moving to confront this man in his rudeness. I did. I was shaking from the ... fear? Adrenaline? Anger? of it all but I approached him and told him that he didn't have to be so nasty to that woman - that she was only asking, politely, to get by. Again, loudly, he informed me that it was none of my business.

Ah! But I disagree - then and now (and told him so!) It is my business because at the time, my husband was in Iraq so my children took their cues on how to behave from other men they saw around them. He was setting an example for my boys to follow; he was inflicting everyone else in that area of the store with his nastiness, rudeness and bullying tactics.

More recently at the WWII Memorial down in Washington, D.C.: As we helped the veterans around the memorial to see the different pictures and reminisce, there were protestors everywhere, as is their right. We asked people to please move in a specific path around the monument or to wait just a minute while our slow-moving veterans made their ways around the monument or back to the buses. How very many of those protestors gave us dirty looks, shoved past us, or adjusted their paths to keep moving but to make room to intentionally try to ram us! In their minds, it was their right to be there protesting (and so it was) but also to be there to move where and when they pleased regardless of what else was going on around them. R-U-D-E.

But we want our children to behave in a certain way. To be kind to one another. To love one another. To be polite.

One last example: A friend's boss. He makes claim to a head injury from a past accident - and so he has one. BUT, does such an injury give him the right to call my friend names, berate her, attempt not to pay her salary, yell at her in front of customers for making sure his supply bills are paid? No, no, and no.

I had an uncle with a head injury from a similar accident - in fact, my uncle was a quadriplegic from his accident (this boss isn't and in fact, hits the gym quite regularly.) My uncle was not always pleasant to be with - and I say that even though I loved him dearly. There were times when he got mad and threw things - or on rarer occasions even attempted to ram people with his wheelchair, so great was his frustration. But by and large he managed to keep himself cheerful and polite - especially given the circumstances. He managed to even be too nice and polite sometimes!

But this boss of my friend's has been allowed and enabled by the people around him to act in a certain way because he is loud and because he uses his head injury as an excuse to push his weight around. In short: he is rude and obnoxious and has been accommodated in that for far too long.

I'm sure we all have examples to throw into this pot. But as for me, I am tired of watching churches crumble because of bullies deciding they don't like the way that the rules go because the rules aren't working for them; tired of my children seeing poor behaviour accepted and allowed, even as I tell them that they have to do x, y, and z because it is the "right" thing to do. I am tired of people deciding that rules of civility apply only when it is convenient to follow them. And I have begun to fight against it.

I speak out now and do my best to stop the rudeness that I see - to stop people from shoving past my children without a word of apology or a simple "pardon me." I now loudly say, "Excuse us!" when this happens. These people need to know that they're being watched and that they are not exempt from basic manners. Even when they're handicapped, or 80, or grown-ups interacting with children. I hope you'll join me. It is not a fight I wage alone, I know. I see others who are tired of it too. But I'd love to see the trend turn so that we don't have to fight any more and can just have a pleasant day, with a tip of the hat and a "thank you."

A more pleasant post next time, I promise - and pictures to go with it! But as this is a part of life, though an unfortunate one, so I thought to address it here. Thank you for the time.


  1. It's been on my heart and mind to do this for quite a while - but I really wanted to cover the Honor Flight first. Why should such a worthwhile group take back seat to a post about nasty people? So I gave them first go and then put this up! Hopefully both will be edifying in different ways.


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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