Just wanted a short post about something I encountered today.
I was at a bookstore with a friend. I went to get assistance finding a new book. It was actually not on the shelf yet, so my need was warranted. She went to check the backroom I followed her path slightly behind, slowing as I drew near the offstage area. As I came to my halt a guy with a very big smile asked me if I was having a good day. I laughed and said I was and asked about his. It was good.
Something was unsettling about it. I kept my eyes on him. His eyes seemed almost too open. Like he wasn’t relaxed. I started to decide that was just the look on his face when I rounded the corner and saw a woman weeping. Confused, I rested there for a moment, she didn’t seem hurt, maybe it was just a bad day. Then the person helping me exited the doors with information where to find my book. Deciding I’d consider checking it out in a moment, I followed her.
I heard the lady telling someone to leave her alone between sobs as I exited the area. I grabbed my copy of the book and returned to the general area, acting like I was browsing. The man with the wide eyes was approaching her. She just kept crying and telling him to leave her alone. She would move a few steps at a time and grab on to the shelf like she was going to fall. Yup, red flags.
He continued to raise his voice with her, I left the immediate area to be less conspicuous. I heard bits and pieces of what he was saying. He insulted her a few times as far as I could tell and was blaming her for something. Eventually he just starts yelling at her to “Stay there” or “come here”. She keeps crying and insisting on not.
During this, there are employees walking by, clearly noticing the conflict and walking a long way to avoid proximity to it. One of them was also a manager.
I imagined the thoughts in their head, were they as pained as mine? I struggled with leaving or saying something. Then I was determined I would say something, everybody needs an advocate I thought. Then I struggled with what I would say, I didn’t know anything of the conflict or what might go on at home, especially if I did intervene. General requests to bring it down to a discussion level were among the ideas. So were things more direct as to tell him to leave her alone or ask what’s going on.
In the end. I chickened out. She probably needed someone to stand up for her, and we all played the ignorant role. I really wish I had said something. I reasoned that if I did say something, I might just make it worse, that might legitimately be true, but I know the real reason I walked off was because I was a coward today. I hope someone did step up. I’m at least praying for that woman tonight. And a little for myself finally. I gotta pray for the strength and wisdom to handle those situations, to be an advocate for people like her or anyone in some sort of abusive situation.
Bad things happen when good people do nothing. I must remember this. I will carry this burden for as long as I can. I will use it to help me to do the right thing in the future.
All seriousness aside, that guy was like 3 times my size. His arms were probably close to the size of my neck in circumference. Next time though. It doesn’t matter, I need to be the man I believe me to be.