Recently I had an encounter with a stranger in the decently busy parking lot of a grocery store. Mind you, this particular grocery store isn't in my town, but a couple of towns away. It just so happened to be the one I was nearest and I needed to get a little something to eat because as usual I was having an hectic day and more than likely, too much time had passed since my last meal (or snack).
For those of you who know me, you're most probably aware that last year I was involved in not one, but two vehicle accidents. Both of them were in my town. I was rear-ended in both accidents while stopped at a red light. Fortunately, my vehicle wasn't badly damaged by either of the accidents and what was broken was repairable and fixed relatively quickly. Now, I'm going to get into the details of my injuries and pain in a moment, but first I want to give praise to God that I wasn't involved in any other rear-end car accidents because since the last one I have almost been rear-ended (in my town) 3 more times! Two of which, would have been terrible and I believe would have totaled my (almost finally paid for) old run down car.
Alright, so back to the Publix parking lot. I've just purchased my snack and drink and I'm walking back to my vehicle, which is appropriately parked in a handicapped spot WITH my decal is on my dash as it should be. As I'm nearing the door to my car I hear an older man's voice say something that seemed as though it was directed to me. So I put my things in the car, lock the door again, and walk to the back of my car to see what was going on.
Here I see an older gentleman in a vintage but not well kept big dark blue pickup truck with his window rolled down. He's wearing a baseball cap and has a very long grizzly gray beard. He seems to be sitting there waiting for someone and it was a nice day, so he has his very tan arm perched on the door above the window that's down. I will try to recall this conversation as best I can, because I was very taken aback by it and frankly pretty pissed off by him for the next couple of days.
So I asked him if he needed something and his response was something about me being in the handicapped spot. Oh, by the way, he was also in a handicapped spot. There were plenty available. There were two more just across the row from us, let alone additional ones in the neighboring rows. My response, "Oh, did you not see my decal on the dashboard? I'm pretty sure I put it there."
He says gruffly, "Yeah, I saw it." Now comes the judgy part, "You don't look handicapped to me," he mocks in a snooty tone. Well, thanks a lot, Bucko. I had literally just come from my physical therapy appointment followed by my chiropractic appointment, plus I was on my pain medication too. And I was having a pretty good day, although I was still limping on my right side, but of course he didn't bother to notice.
Okay, so those of you know me really well, know I'm Italian and my blood was literally boiling in my skin. He has no idea of my story, my pain, my daily and nightly challenges, the fact that I couldn't even walk properly for months after the first accident, etc. I may be Christian, but with the Italian in me combined with my family's Northeastern roots, I so badly wanted to curse at him in response.
I didn't though. I bit my tongue. Shoot, I about severed it in my own mouth because I was so enraged by his nastiness. Instead, I simply proceeded with a smile, "Well, I was in 2 car accidents last year and I'm in recuperation." I thought to myself, this should be the end of the conversation now. It was a ridiculous one that he even started to begin with, and I have things to get done, let alone I need to finally eat something too. Oh, but no! He then retorted loudly, "Yeah, right!" as I turned to go back to my car door to get in and leave.
I drove away and I was literally shaking because I felt so incredibly violated by this man for having the audacity to judge me and then not even believe the truth when presented to him. What kind of person does that? Surely, not MY kind of person. You know, being from South Florida and spending time in NJ and NY growing up, I would expect this type of behavior in any of those regions. But, we moved to GA years ago and one of the main reasons we did so is because of how nice many of the people we met here were, when we visited on a previous family vacation.
Needless to say, ultimately I was proud of my behavior in response to what felt like an outright verbal attack by this stranger. And how can you even pose as a gentleman if this is how you treat people you don't know? Anyway, I sure hope he's not a neighbor and doesn't live in my town because I really have no desire to run into him again. How rude!
I do hope sharing this story serves as a reminder to myself, my family, and you, our f&h family to be kind. You don't know why someone is doing or not doing something, or why they're acting or not acting a specific way. If you don't agree with it, but it's not directly effecting you and your life, don't interject into theirs. Simply say a prayer for them. If it is negatively impacting your life than you may need to address is as we should all have proper boundaries for our own sanity and self care. But, keep in mind please that the only judge we have is our Father above.
We'd love to hear your stories about when you chose to be the better person, choosing kindness over lashing out, (even if it was warranted and well-deserved). ;o) So drop your stories in our comments below. Be safe my friends, and be kind today and every day.