So tonight I stopped at the Jewel on Roosevelt and Wabash on the way home after dinner and drinks with one of my awesome groomsmen. I only had two missions. Pick up a prescription from the pharmacy and get some razors. Apparently the Universe intended a third purpose.
As I was walking up to the registers I noticed a man yelling at a clerk behind the deli counter. His body language was very aggressive and his verbal language was worse. Normally I steer clear of these situations because if twenty years in martial arts has taught me anything it has taught me to avoid confrontation in all external situations. It seems that he was upset because he asked for a half a pound of chicken wings and the deli clerk only gave him .44 pounds. For some reason in this situation I felt compelled to approach him and ask him to back down and treat the deli clerk with the respect she deserved. He went crazy on me. I should have known that someone with that much negative energy would not all of a sudden back down but I couldn’t help myself in the moment. It felt right.
As he was screaming at me to mind my own business and leave him alone I stood in a very non-confrontational body position. Again after many years of martial arts and working in the service industry I would like to think that I know a thing or two about how to position my body in a non-confrontational way. The clerk behind the counter wandered away as she well should have and he turned his focus on me entirely. I decided not to back down and told him he needed to learn that it was not acceptable to treat other human beings the way he was treating the clerk. He began to shake his fist and finger at me and tell me if I was smart I would leave him alone or I would have a surprise coming my way. At no point did I feel even a little bit agitated or challenged. I again told him to think about his actions and to consider how much better it would be to treat others with respect and that the difference between .50 pounds and .44 pounds was not worth chastising someone about.
At this point security came into the picture. The clerk behind the counter gave me a look that I will value for the rest of my days. A look that said “Thank you for understanding that I am just at work doing my job and I don’t deserve to be treated this way and for standing up for me when I couldn’t or risk my job…”
The security guard was a different story. He asked me if I had a problem. I told him that my problem was that the man in question was treating the Jewel employee like garbage and that I decided it wasn’t acceptable. I continued in my arms behind my back non-aggressive posture but the man who was waving his arms around and yelling at the clerk continued to be irate and animated. The security guard then asked me to leave the store. I asked him if he thought I was the problem or if maybe the irate customer who was berating the clerk behind the counter even as I willingly left the store was the problem. He said he didn’t care and that I needed to leave even as the same guy continued to complain about the difference about .44 pounds versus .50 pounds.
As I walked away from the deli counter another customer went past me with their grocery cart and said “Thanks for standing up…” and the deli clerk behind the counter smiled at me in a special way. That’s all that matters to me. I will never shop at Jewel again. I intend to send them a letter when I manage to have the time but I won’t go out of my way to make the time.
In some ways it’s just another night in the life but in other ways it seems like more. I feel good about my decisions and am content.
Not what I expected to be my next entry but then again you never know…