In this case, it was my daughter and her classmates I was standing up for. The other day I accompanied her and her class to a well-known market here in Toronto. The kids, armed with clipboards, pencils and enthusiasm, were to go around and find the items on their list such as pork sausages, milk, eggs and salmon and list prices, note where the item comes from (farm? Sea?) and so forth. Vendors were accommodating and I stood around, coffee in hand and helped them locate items, read prices and more. Until we stopped at one vendor, a salmon and caviar vendor who didn’t have his prices listed. We waited along with a few other kids and their moms until the vendor returned so the kids could ask him what the information. He came back, and one brave soul stepped up to ask him: what is the price of this salmon? His reply? He wouldn’t tell her. Puzzled another mother stepped forward and asked again. Again, he repeated he wouldn’t tell them. If we wanted to buy an item, he would share it with us he told the adults in the group, but he wasn’t about to help a group of 7-year-olds. He then waved the children away and grumped off.
We stood there dumbfounded. Why wouldn’t he share the information? The other parents left with their children and while my group was filling in what information they could, I piped up. “I don’t know what made you so grumpy and rude that you can’t help out a few school kids,” I spat out. He said he wasn’t being rude, I argued he was and then took my group away to the pleas of my daughter, who at this point was admittedly quite mortified. Even though we weren’t paying customers, I felt like he didn’t need to be so dismissive and rude to the request and possibly, could have handled it better.
So what’s this got to do with happiness? The incident’s been on my mind ever since it happened. I wondered—what was I trying to gain here? Besides standing up for a bunch of grade two children who were confused by the whole turn of events. And I think I’m happy, or at least satisfied, with the outcome. I’m not known for being a wallflower. I tend to pipe up if something’s wrong, or someone says something inappropriate. Some see it as confrontational; I see it more as calling people on their behaviour or actions. I don’t love doing it. I tend to get rattled and nervous at the thought of saying something. But not so much that I don’t keep my mouth shut.
So was I happy with what happened? I think I was in a way—if I hadn’t stood up for those kids, I would have been kicking myself for days for not speaking up. So I guess I was happy and satisfied with having said something. And while we all left that seafood stand upset, in the end, I am glad that I piped up if only to show him and the kids that that kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable. But if I’m so happy to have said something, I am left wondering why it doesn’t feel better.
What about you—do you ever call someone out on something they’ve said or done? If so, how does it make you feel?
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