Screaming at strangers never a good idea in a small town

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I don't often gripe about people, but recently on Facebook, I did.

It was the first day of my vacation, a lovely Saturday morning. I had errands to run before some chores at home and a friend's wedding in the afternoon.

I was in a great mood, especially after dropping off some unwanted items at a thrift store - part of our household clutter reduction project.

My second stop was at the adorable Reminisce shop in the Promenade. Owner Jerry Glenn was there and I showed him some items I thought he might be interested in. Sure enough, he was. We had a delightful chat and I left with a smile on my face.

I walked over to my car, which was parked in a great shady spot just across the parking lot from the store, got in and cranked up the AC. It was hot!

Suddenly, I noticed a man in a chef hat, standing on the sidewalk and peering into my passenger-side window. He didn't look familiar, but I thought perhaps he thought he knew me. He motioned to me so I rolled down the window. "Hi," I chirped.

Then he proceeded to lambaste me for parking in that particular spot. "You are parked in front of my business and you need to leave," he said vociferously in his foreign accent. "There are many other spaces around the other stores, so you don't need to park in front of mine."

I was quite surprised by his tirade.

"Move your car, do you know what I mean? This is my business and I don't want you to park here. Don't you understand? Even a first grader would understand what I am saying! You need to leave!" He got louder as he continued.

I was incredulous! Not that it matters - as parking is public in the whole Promenade - but I was already leaving, and he still shouted at me.

Though the four-letter words in my head were on the verge of spewing forth, when I opened my mouth, my mother's calm voice came out: "Why are you being so ugly to me?"

He just got louder and angrier in his ranting. "I want you to leave now. Don't park here. You can't park in front of my business!"

When I asked his name, he said, "You don't need to know that! All you need to know is this is my business and I don't ever want to see your car here again," followed by "I call police now!" as he walked toward the entrance of his business, muttering and using a word that rhymes with "witch."

I calmly said, "Okay, call them." I thought I might like to chat with our local officers as well.

A customer who was sitting outside witnessed the whole thing; he grinned and said, "I'm sorry. But he's really a great guy."

I don't think "really great" people treat others like that. He was rude and bellig-erent. And, based on feedback from my Facebook post, it seems this behavior was not a one-time, having-a-bad-day outburst.

My intention in telling this story is to point out that - especially in our small community - it's a good idea to always be mindful that you never know who that stranger is that you are smiling at or yelling at. It's best to always be nice.

How different this story would be if the chef had invited me to come check out his shop while I was right there, maybe point out a specialty or offer a small sample of his baked goods.

Instead of potentially gaining a new customer through a chance meeting, he alienated someone with a big mouth - and a lot of her friends.

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