By Aretha Franklin
What you want, baby, I got it
What you need? You know I got it
All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you get home
Hey baby, when you get home.
A major parental rule in our family was to honor and respect people, especially our elders. I’ve let that tenet govern my life. It always served me well – until now. I’m not far away from those years myself. Need I start to worry of receiving treatment other than what we all deserve: R E S P E C T? Uh huh, just like the Aretha Franklin song.
While shopping at the market, bent over in research for just the right bargain on breads, bagels and English muffins I heard someone say, “Excuse me.” As if someone had a remote control button on me, I spontaneously rose up to find a petite elderly woman there, smiling at me. I thought she was going to ask me a question, or perhaps for some help.
But no, she merely wanted the space I occupied. And she moved in on me. Her carriage moved in front me and she began to muddle through the breads, muffins and bagels section. Mind you, now I cannot get in for what I need. How did that happen?
Alas, I’m torn. Had I shown respect? I am quite sure I had. Did I receive respect? I think not! And this ‘lady’ actually stayed in this position for five minutes until I snapped. Now five minutes doesn’t ‘sound’ like much time. But think about it folks. That is 300 seconds. Time yourself, right now – go ahead. Stay silent and unmoving (okay you can tap your foot – I did) for 300 seconds. Not fun eh?
Now imagine someone cutting you off in traffic this way. Would you be annoyed? Upset? Would you be reluctant now to allow this to happen again? Did she, this diminutive, elderly lady just diss me? Yes!!!
Never in my life, not in childhood, nor growing up, nor in my adult years have I “ever” dissed my elders. I’d fear the wrath of mom and dad, even though they’re now gone from this world. But something even more important took over me that day at the supermarket. My dad, God love him, taught me I should “speak up” when a wrong has occurred. Not in a demeaning, rude or insulting way – just speak out against the wrong that has occurred. “It might do some good,” I can hear him saying. And that’s what I did.
I stared at this white-haired pixie and said, “Excuse me!” She never so much as moved. Did she know what she was doing? Hmm …
Again, I said louder, “Excuse me, but I need to select my breads also.” She looked at me, in annoyance, then went back to perusing the labels without budging. I did the unforgiveable. I moved her cart, grabbed my bread and bagels and retreated. But not before saying my peace.
“Ma’am my parents brought me up to honor and respect my elders. But you have just dishonored them, and me, by rude disrespect. You stopped me from my tasks so you could go ahead of me. You didn’t ask me, you just proceeded to take over. That was wrong and you knew what you were doing.”
Yes, without remorse, I uttered, “Hopefully I will not see you again in this store.”
Was I wrong to speak up? Had she known all along what she was doing and decided she just couldn’t wait, or even ask to cut in front of me? Should I have ignored the situation and had a more abundance of patience? Hmm …
By the way, on my way to the cashier after selecting frozen vegetables, I looked down the aisles. There she was, still in the bread aisle!