Thursday, June 22, 2017

To Help or Not to Help? That is the (stupid) Question.

As part of my job, I visit stores that carry my company’s product. Today I was in a store and had to wait while the employee waited on another customer. Also in the store was another man who was yelling to anyone who would listen that he was pissed with the store owner (who wasn’t there) for not refunding his money on something he purchased that he wasn’t happy with. He was yelling, and continued to yell while the employee was waiting on the other customer.

[That description of the ‘disgruntled’ customer was an extreme understatement for purposes of brevity. This was more than the annoying person who calls customer service to complain.]

After the first customer left, and while the irate customer was still carrying on the employee motioned me over to take the collateral I brought for him and rushed me out of the store.

Something inside of me told me I should call for help.

And I hesitated.


I’m not a person who ‘profiles’ certain people, nor am I the kind of person to assume anything because of a geographical – but I am a former bar owner/manager, and have seen my share of fights. You know when you can handle them, and you know when you need help; however, there are some instances where it is not as easy to tell, when a situation looks like it can be diffused but then suddenly takes a different direction. I’ve seen enough bar fights to recognize the signs of that, too.
This particular situation toed that line of getting to a point of no return. When the employee rushed me out of the store, I saw a look on his face that I couldn’t understand; it could have been fear, annoyance, or get-the-hell-out-before-something-happens.

Whatever it was, I did not feel right leaving him alone in the store with that agitated customer. I went back to my car (which was a few feet away from and visible to the door) and picked up my phone to call the police.

So, why did I hesitate? There were a number of reasons, and none of them valid when stacked against the ‘what if’.

What if it was nothing – or, what if I was overreacting?

Something in my gut got my attention. Just because I’m a girl and have been accused of overreacting enough times that I’d be a gazillionnaire “if I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me”, that is not reason enough to ignore that nagging feeling that this situation was rapidly nearing that point of no return.

I don’t want to bother the police if it turns out to be nothing – they’ve got plenty to do.

But what if it’s not ‘nothing’?

What business wants the police showing up?


If this was nothing, how would it reflect on the employee? Would this get him in trouble?

There are so many different ways this could impact him negatively if the situation turned out to be harmless.

I had all of these thoughts going through my head while I sat in the car for that minute, watching what was going on inside the store. He was still gesturing wildly and yelling; the employee was on the phone (probably trying to call his boss).

I did not feel right just leaving. I actually got out of the car to go back into the store – why? I have no idea what I thought I could do. And while I was outside looking in, I called someone to ask if I should call the police.

Why? My gut was already telling me not to leave it alone!

My friend told me they had been in the same situation and that ‘someone’ had ended up calling the police, so it worked out.

“Someone?” What the hell? Who? In this particular situation, who exactly would that ‘someone’ be? The employee was in the store alone with that guy; if he didn’t - or couldn’t - call, who would? That response was so laughably unhelpful – basically telling me not to worry about it, that someone else would – that I made up my mind immediately and hung up on him to call the police.

Calling that person may have been the best thing for me to do, if only because it helped me make up my mind. Who the hell advises someone else to let someone else worry about a situation that you can see?

I don’t know how it turned out; the police came before I left. I didn’t want to stick around to see if I called them unnecessarily because I was already angry at myself for my indecision to take steps to help someone who could have been in need.

I’m still polluted - with myself. The bottom line is that I witnessed a situation that my own experience told me could have gotten out of control, and I hesitated to take action because I worried about the negative backlash  - that wouldn’t have even affected me – if I was wrong. What kind of society did I grow up in that I would question my urge to get help if I felt someone needed it? Do I need to make sure someone is bleeding first?

I’m glad I called the police. Even if it was for nothing. I never would have been able to forgive myself if their help had been needed.

I don’t care anymore about being wrong about assessing a possible ‘situation’. What matters now is making sure I’ve done what I could to help, even if it’s only in case I was right – and even if it’s only once. If I put the shoe on the other foot … what would I have wanted another person to do? It should never matter on the outcome.  All lives are valuable, and I will not make decisions that basically sum up what amounts to be judgment of the value of another’s. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Exposing the Bully

We all know what a terrorist is. In one of my blogs I referred to terrorists as ‘bullies’ because changing the name can change the perception; ‘terrorist’ seems so big and scary, and ‘bully’ seems a little … smaller, more manageable. In that case, the exchange of the words can be helpful when it comes to managing emotions and levels of fear.

However – and for the same reason of acknowledging and using the power behind words – I’m going to flip it around: a bully is a terrorist. While the motivation behind their actions may be different, their goal is the same: to coerce or intimidate another person or person(s) with the use of violence and/or threats.

They are the same, except for one difference; the terrorist is open in the attack and the bully operates under some cover of secrecy. The schoolyard bully never beats a child up for lunch money in front of a teacher; cyberbullying is not usually posted on Facebook and is instead directed to one party; and stalking is usually done under cover of night. All of these forms of harassment are shrouded in secrecy – unless the target of the harasser comes forward.

That should be it, right? But is it? Most of the time the people who are the victims of harassment will not speak out about it, and the reasons are endless. Most people don’t like to be called a ‘snitch’ – which, in my humble opinion, is the vilest form of victim-shaming; someone does something to you, and you are made out to be wrong for reporting it? We really have things ass-backwards here, don’t we?

Another reason is simple embarrassment; admitting to being bullied opens the door to exposing the same secrets or threats the bully is using to victimize, and no one wants to air their dirty laundry, do they? Certainly no one else on the planet has any. This is victim-shaming by the victim him or herself. What would other people say about me if they knew this? This reasoning doubles the harasser’s power; he’s doing it to you, and you are doing it to yourself.

And then there’s the common response of “It’s not so bad” (because no one is physically bleeding?). We think that something like this is small in the grand scheme of things; therefore, we should be able to take care of it ourselves. Even if we were to go so far as to take legal action, we would be made aware that so many other worse things are going on that this seems trivial; this thinking is validated by either/both of sitting in a courtroom while you wait your turn and listening to real issues or not feeling like the police or judge are taking you seriously enough because “nothing has happened yet.”
(And in typical ass-backward fashion, when something does happen we react with “Why wasn’t something done sooner?”)

How do I know this? Because I sat in a courtroom for two hours (plus an hour for a break) the other day to get a harassment order against someone.

I am being bullied. In fact, my whole family is.

Another party has taken their simple dislike for us from unkind letters a few years ago, to an actual threat last year, to attempting to force self-humiliation under threat of certain exposure by reaching out to extended family members, friends and acquaintances in the past two months. The latest attacks have come with no participation or communication of any kind from any of us for a year.

Is this embarrassing to me? Of course it is. No one wants to be a part of anything like this. Then I wonder why it is embarrassing. I’m not doing it. And I realize that I’m also getting old enough that what other people think of me matters less and less.

It is a shame that it happens that way; that we need to get older to un-condition ourselves from silly beliefs. I may not publicize my ‘skeletons’, but I do try to move past them – and I’ll be damned if I let someone else undo that progress that I’ve made by attempting to use them to control me in a way that I won’t allow on my own.

Like I said before, a bully’s power is contained in the secrecy of his actions (his secrecy and the keeping quiet by the target). When we were first threatened with “war” I had said I will not fight. If I were fighting now, I would be naming names (although names are mentioned where it counts.) What I am doing now is exposing the harassment, taking the lid off, and circling my wagons. Disarming the weapon of secrecy. There is now record of this behavior.

Secrecy hurts. Keeping the lid on can cause a person to alter their way of life and then isolate and withdraw. Am I going to spend my time second-guessing every move I make for fear of another finding some way to twist it around to hurt me? NO FUCKING WAY.

My family is delightfully dysfunctional. Are any of us perfect? I stand at the front, speaking for myself when I say, “NO WAY!” But we love each other, I cherish all of them, and I don't take kindly to threats of any kind made against any of them - particularly my daughter. 

To all of you out there: Should any of you receive mail/emails/postcards that suggest in rather crude and vulgar fashion that I have had sex, don’t be surprised - this is what's going on. Besides, I have had sex. Even better than what was so nicely described in an email to my parents, my siblings, and my daughter.  (Note that I have offspring; you can pretty well rest assured that I have had sex.)

I've also made quite a few mistakes. I've even done stupid things. 

If you are offered any kind of monetary offering for any of the above type of information about me or my family, take it. Everyone can use a few extra bucks. As far as I’ve heard, the starting price is $100. Ask for more; the terrorist is well-funded. (You may need a PayPal account.)

To you, the terrorist: you said, “WAR. My mind, my time, my wealth aimed at YOU. Get ready!” Fine. You have your resources; this is me using mine. 

You can make me a target, but you cannot make me a victim.