I was sitting at the Gypsy Beans window bar this past Saturday doing a little work when an elderly lady asked the room if anyone had taken the "Forum" section of her Plain Dealer from her table, which she had secured with her coat.
I glanced around to see if anyone had it and it turned out the table directly next to her did. There were two women and a man at the table, the man was reading the section of the paper in question. Once the women realized he had taken it (his back was to her) they quickly brought it to his attention and told him to hand it over.
Easy peasy right? I'm sure it was all a misunderstanding, grabbing a paper from a coffee shop table isn't abnormal and then you just hand it back - no biggie.
Well instead, the gentleman reading the paper had what I can only describe as a visceral reaction to the elderly woman asking for her paper back. His voiced raised, he became angry and venting, saying he didn't know it was hers and told her to relax, etc. etc.
This little old woman, WHO WAS CARRYING AROUND AN OXYGEN TANK mind you, was definitely shaken and moved to a table further away from him.
If it had ended at that it would have been a rude situation yes, but whatever, instead the guy started talking loudly to the people at his table calling this elderly woman "a bitch" repeatedly and continued to vent - I turned around and shot the table a look of disgust but kept my mouth shut.
It didn't stop though.
This elderly woman was not rude, simply asked a question, it was only a newspaper section in question, not a million dollars.
Finally, after about 20 minutes, I turned around to the table and said something to the effect of "are you seriously still talking about that nice little old lady asking for the section of the paper back?", to which the gentleman in question (who was probably around my age) said he was entitled to voice his opinion and blah blah blah.
That doesn't mean his opinion wasn't rude, crass, short-sighted and didn't make the entire section uncomfortable. The newspaper didn't belong to him, he didn't need to call a harmless stranger "a bitch", nor did he need to continue to loudly talk about how mad he was at the woman for calling him out.
He had such anger in his tone, that I hope something else was going on in his life that was really worth getting upset about, instead of an elderly woman asking for a section of the PD.
Long story short, the whole episode shook me - why are people so quick to jump to anger and accusations?
This was very timely for me as I'm dealing with a personal situation where I'm frustrated with someone taking the defensive, being aggressive and not taking the time to think about how other people see them.
Thus is life though, and these types of people will always be around.
I take it as my job (and hopefully yours too) to take the high road, always be looking out for others and know that even on your worst day someone else is worse off than you. Everyone is struggling with something and a smile goes a long way.
Be kind to each other today.