Written by cycleguy on March 3rd, 2014

I never saw myself as the cowardly lion type. Check that. I might fit that bill when it comes to bungee jumping or sky diving. I am not afraid of heights but I don’t do fast drops very well. However, an incident happened to me Monday afternoon which has got me thinking that I might be more of one than I thought. I’d like to give you the scenario and then get your take on it.

Monday afternoon I visited the local Circle K (gas station/convenience store) to get Jo a Polar Pop and me a Rasberry Tea. (I’ve decided not to drink so much Diet Dr Pepper so I haven’t had one in two weeks). Anyway, as I was checking out, some loud mouth jerk began spouting off to one of his comrades, and after he shamed him into leaving, continued. In the space of about one minute he used the “F” word at least 6 or 7 times, a few other cuss words and God’s name in vain once. There were two employees (both females) standing right there. I know hearing those words is nothing new to either. Shoot, they ain’t even new to me.

I said nothing.

After I went outside, shame hit me. I went back into the store and apologized to the ladies. The one is older and had a child out of wedlock; the other was probably nigh teens/low 20s, so neither are naive. I told them: “That guy was a jerk and I hope you don’t think we are all like that. But I really want to apologize because I didn’t speak up for you and defend you, but this is your store and I didn’t think it would be cool to make a scene.” They thanked me for thinking of them. (For once I wish I was Chuck Norris).  🙂

But I still can’t get it out of my mind.  I want to say, “Courage. I need Courage.”

So, I’m asking you. What would you have done in that situation? You ever have one like that? Was I a coward?


46 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    I don’t think that you showed cowardice. I may have said something to let them know to watch themselves in public, but I may not have. It would kind of depend on my frame of mind. I think the fact that you considered your response to the situation and mapped out a course for future action is a great sign of progress.

  2. Hi Bill,

    That’s a hard call, huh? Were they yelling at the girls or just to each other? If at the girls, it would be easier to say get involved. If at each other, that’s trickier. You’re not cowardly. Life’s complicated.

    Re your comment on my post “She’s Smarter than Me,” Thanks for stopping in, Bill. It’s always exciting to see our kids make wise decisions, huh? All the more so, when it gently reminds us of that choice too.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

    • Bill,

      Re your comment on my post “Want to Build Creativity…” I love that you work with a pregnancy/pro-life center. Thank you! How funny that the snow affected the church services but not in town events. It’s all a matter of how far the distance to drive is, huh? We are experiencing a remarkably snowy winter this year too in MN.

      Drat! A dentist today? Sorry, bud. It’s not my husband’s favorite thing either. May it go smoothly and painlessly.

      Jennifer Dougan

      • cycleguy says:

        On the first: yes it is a hard call. On the second: we had an ugly storm which stopped its fury about 11 or so. Our church is out of town and our county is huge with our people spread out. It would have been utterly dangerous to try to have church. by lunch time the main roads were drivable. but in saying that, I do agree with you about making/not making church. It is a slippery slope. 🙂 Dentist went well.

  3. the Old Adam says:

    Nowadays if you say something you could be possibly be killed. And maybe get others hurt or killed in the process.

    And you have a family to think of, also.

    You did the right thing.

    It’s happened to me, also. And there have been times when I have said something and almost came to blows over it. It’s not worth it.

    Sometimes I wish I were Charles Bronson.

  4. It’s a fine line. In another time you would give them a whooping. A man insulted my grandmother once. My grandfather had the road blocked on the man’s way home from work one day. He drug the man’s face through the gravel road. You can’t do that today.

  5. Dan Erickson says:

    What you did may have been the better choice. People can get crazy. And I’m not sure it’s our job to police the world. Going back in was more than I would have done and took courage in itself.

  6. jeff says:

    Could have just handed them a business card and invited them to services on Sunday.

  7. Zee says:

    If someone hurts someone I know, I am a mother bear. However, there are often times when I wish I had spoken up and didn’t. A convenient excuse would be that I am an introvert and don’t like to talk to strangers at all, but that doesn’t really matter when I can help someone… So I need courage as well.

  8. Ryan says:

    Cowardly, no… I think we have all been in similar situations.

    I do think you have to be careful. How quickly it could escallate and put yourself and others in danger.

    Having said that…

    I have confronted folks at times especially when my kids are around. We were camping in Titusville, Florida when the “neighbors” decided to have an all out screaming match outside their camper. It was escallating and I was concerned that it may turn physical. I decided to engage and politely asked them to be aware of our children with the words that were being used. I did this to make them aware they were being noticed and to hopefully dissolve the situation.

    It was tense for a minute or so.. but they chose to quiet down.

    • cycleguy says:

      I think I remember you saying something about that time. You are a brave soul but you did have your kids & Amanda to think of. You rose 10 feet in their eyes. I do wonder if it would have escalated in my incident.

  9. In the past, especially when children are present, I’ve been able to pull off saying cheerfully, “Hey guys, this is a family show….(ending with a lift in my tone like a question)” That usually catches them off guard and often they chuckle and apologize. I pull off the innocent child reaction (“oh goodness”) on occasion. However, one time I had no words and yet couldn’t take my eyes off of the troublesome man. That got a foul comment directed right at me, backed with a promise that if he’d had his blade on him I’d have been cut.

    If I’m unsure about saying anything, I at least remain present until the troublesome people are gone…just in case.

    You did a beautiful thing by going back in. Most folks are “too busy” to do such rethinking and take second actions. Quit kicking yourself. Maybe do a follow up moment with the two ladies in the future. All them if their day has been filled with more kind people than rough ones our done such. Let them know you continue to care how they are treated.

    God bless!

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks MS. I am not sure there was a way to defuse this one since he was angry and spouting off about his buddy (who left with his tail between his legs). I am hoping I did the right thing about going back in. Who knows I won’t have a chance sometime in the future???

  10. Rob Hollowell says:

    I tend to think you handled it well. I am sure all of us have been in that situation. All believers want to say something, but in public, where others (innocent bystanders) are around I am not sure a “please respect others and don’t use that language here” comment would have been a wise thing as things may have escalated and could have caused harm to some. I have often wondered what could be said in that situation to make the foul mouthed to back down somewhat…maybe something as simple as “do you know Jesus?” and just leave it at that. I have dealt with that here in Alabama…not so much the cussing, but the “N” word…I really get irritated when I hear it, especially if it comes from people I know or work with.

    I believe the apologies to the clerks showed courage Bill. You don’t need to be Chuck Norris…you have Jesus.

    Love you Bill.

    • cycleguy says:

      i don’t think this guy would have wanted to hear “please respect…” You are right in that. I’m not sure he would know what respect is. I bristle when I hear the “n” word. Thanks Bob. Love you too.

      bob is my brother-in-law.

  11. Dan Black says:

    I think you were wise about not saying anything to the person and going back to talk with the ladies. I’ve learned it can be dangers to place yourself in the middle (unless it’s absolutely necessary) of a person like that.

  12. Betty Draper says:

    This is one we never get perfect…what I do think brother is it takes courage to put this post out there then ask for comments.

  13. tcavey says:

    Each situation is different, I think it’s cowardly if God prompts you to say something and you don’t. But it’s also foolish to speak out if God doesn’t want you to.
    One just has to get in the habit of consulting God and be familiar with His voice to be able to discern each individual situation.
    I don’t see anything wrong with how you handled this, it shows courage to go back inside and say what you did.
    Good job. Thanks for sharing.

    • cycleguy says:

      I’m not sure he was prompting me or if it was just my own sense of dignity that was being slapped. I did sense Him telling me to go back in. Thanks TC.

  14. Desert Jim says:

    I think it would be different if those dudes were directing those comments at the ladies working there. If the guy was so worked up, if you said something to him, you might have given him an avenue to take out his frustration which wouldn’t have been productive.

    I can’t even keep that word out of my house. If I could only use a baseball bat on him when he uses it….hmmm. No I guess not.

    • cycleguy says:

      I give you permission…no I reckon I better not. 🙂 You make a good point though DJ about who he was directing his comments toward.

  15. Susan says:

    There is a time to talk, and a time to be silent. I don’t think you can make it a hard and fast rule. As with pretty much everything, it is the call of the Holy Spirit.

  16. David says:

    I don’t think you were wrong not to say anything but I also don’t think you would have been wrong if you did. I tend to agree with some of the others though that intervening, especially in this day and age, would have been a risky venture. And I agree with Dan that going back in took some courage in itself.

    • David says:

      … discretion is sometimes better than valor …

      • cycleguy says:

        You mean I actually have shown some maturity with discretion? Seriously, I am not a physical person in the violence area (except for watching it on screen). I’m not sure what i would have done if it had become physical.

  17. floyd says:

    It’s hard to think in the spur of a moment situation. None of us claim we did the right things when taken by surprise in this life.

    The fact that you think and strive for peace first might be a good thing. There is no right answer because it’s all in hindsight. I can say for sure that sometimes speaking too quickly is just as bad and often worse. I tend to be the person that crosses swords when a warmer heart might be gifted with calming words. That’s not good either, maybe worse, but if your grandson would have been with you, I know for sure things would have been different.

    I’ve learned that things like happen in life to prepare us for the next one… With your wisdom I know you’ll be ready.

  18. Caleb Suko says:

    There is a cultural aspect here Bill, Americans tend to value their rights, the guy cussing valued his right to cuss whenever and wherever he wanted. I find that often those who are subject to listen to a guy like this will do nothing except quietly try to move on.

    In Ukraine things are a little different. Often people, compete strangers on the street aren’t afraid to tell you if they think you are doing something wrong. Sometimes this can be a little embarrassing, like when I get yelled out by a grandma for not wearing a hat when it’s cold outside but often it is refreshing to see the courage to say it like it is.

    • cycleguy says:

      That quite a difference in approaches Caleb. Thanks for the cultural lesson also.

    • Zee says:

      Hahaha, I got a laugh out of your comment, Caleb 😀 Babushki (grandmas) here do indeed tell everyone what they should do (in a caring way).

  19. Rodney Olsen says:

    There are dozens …. no, hundreds of situations where I knew exactly the right thing to do in a tricky situation … after the event. I’m not always good at reacting in the moment but each of those situations inform my choices for the next time and the time after that.

    Having said that, I’m not sure in your case that speaking up would have helped. It may have even escalated the situation.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. 🙂

    • cycleguy says:

      After it was all over and was sitting in my truck, and later my office, I began to do the old hindsight thing too Rodney. Thanks for coming by.

  20. Jan says:

    I think you handled the situation very well. You never know what people are going to do when confronted with their ugly behavior. I really think you made a big difference to those ladies when you went back in and talked to them. They at least knew that someone cared & was sorry they were treated in such a disgusting way. I know that would make a big impact on me, probably more than if you had actually said something to the guy. I believe it was not only the christian thing to do, but the human thing to do. It’s sad that we live in a world where people go around behaving rudely and spewing vulgarity at people, not caring who’s around, but there are caring people like you who at least acknowledge that it happened so those women could take some encouragement from that. They were left hearing your good words and not the other guy’s ugly words. 🙂

  21. I probably wouldn’t have said anything if it was just between the two guys and nobody was in any physical danger.

    Tough call on what to do, but I wouldn’t call you a coward by any means and going back in to talk to the ladies was a classy move.