When you see something in public that causes you to wince, do you say something or do you let it slide?
After doing the latter probably ten times in a row, I finally decided last Saturday afternoon to say something.
The Napkin Incident
I was strolling around my favorite grocery store, and there on a display rack, along with all the other cocktail napkins, was one that struck me as clever/cruel the first time I read it—and every time afterward, just wrong. Basically, it was mocking people with a serious mental illness—not just the illness itself, but the millions of people who have it.
Okay. If I see a manager, I'll say something.
About ten minutes later, I saw him. Moment of truth. I'll spare you the awkward details, except to say the exchange was exceptionally polite and relatively brief. "I'll get rid of them," he said. Good. Let's move on. "Take it easy," I said, waving and walking. "Thanks."
Phew. Glad that's over.
A few minutes later (I hate when this happens) I passed by him again.
"I got rid of them," he said cheerfully. "They won't be back."
"It's all good. I appreciate it." And I almost asked him where they kept the Parmesan—anything to change the subject.
Was it easy to speak up? No. But for thirty seconds of discomfort, we did our part to clean up the culture. As I'm sure you've noticed, it's become considerably harsher.
We don't have to go looking for proof of this. The proof will find us. When it does, whether at home, work, a meeting, or anywhere else, I challenge you to listen to your better instincts, and when the time is right, say something. If I can do it, you can do it.
"A little kindly advice is better than a great deal of scolding."
– Fanny Crosby