When the entitled unjustly shame others

Elderly Man Wearing EyeglassesOur latest ride share story comes from passenger, Hank. I picked Hank up from brunch in San Francisco and drove him back to his apartment in East Bay. Hank manages a bank in Berkeley, near where he lives.

Small acts can help

A few weeks in a row he noticed an elderly man who seemed to be having a hard time while waiting on line. Carl noticed his struggles as he hobbled along, in between the ropes and behind other customers. Now and again, people behind him would let out an audible huff to express their discontent and impatience. Carl approached the man, Mr. Sumner, and asked him if he needed help. Mr. Sumner politely thanked Carl but declined his offer. It turns out that Mr. Sumner was a former athlete and veteran. As part of his feeling independent, he runs his own errands. Mr. Sumner said, “It may take me longer than it used to, but it is still me doing it without relying on someone else. That means a lot to me!”

Angry customer expresses discontent

Flash forward a few weeks: Carl had the displeasure of meeting a particularly vocal customer. While in line behind Mr. Sumner, this customer demanded that she speak with the bank manager immediately! Carl came out to the line and asked her how he could help her. She demanded to know why he did not provide assistance for this man. With her voice raised, she continued in saying that she was astounded by his lack of sense of urgency and responsibility while “this man suffers.” She ended, “How dare you sir! You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.”

Carl proceeded in saying, “thank you for your concern, which I share by the way, but this is Mr. Sumner. Mr. Sumner, who has been offered help in the past, takes great pride in his ability to remain independent.” She conceded.

You don’t know what you don’t know

This woman, who originally had good intent, seemingly addressed what she saw as a troubling situation in the most entitled manner. Her approach ended up alienating others, and among them, the person she originally wanted to help. In these sorts of situations, and beyond, we’re in some ways conditioned to make snap decisions or judgments, with little-to-no information. We asses events┬ábased on what we think we know but we don’t often enough ask questions about what we do not know. It’s easier to make assumptions. The fact is that every circumstance does not exist in a way that is departed from history, race, economics and so much more. Human experience is so vast that it’s daunting. So, next time that cashier is rude, ask yourself why before you react. With that said, the villain in this story is an entitled woman in Berkeley who has a distorted sense of what is right and wrong, right? What was going on in her world that affected her behavior? Does she have a sick parent at home? Is she a caregiver?

Have you ever had any situations where you were happy to be proved wrong?