Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Musings - Have You Ever?

Do you watch the show “What Would You Do?” where situations are set up with actors that create seemingly abusive situations, obvious dishonesty (i.e. cheating), or incidents of bullying?   

The show started me thinking and I’ve come to realize there are times when I should have stepped up and times when I have and happy I did.  Since I’ve traveled a fair amount out of the country, one of my regrets is over a particular situation I witnessed in China.  A friend and I were in a shop in Shanghai when a loud conversation drew our attention.  An obviously American woman (the accent pin-pointed the region) berated the young shop clerk who told the woman she couldn’t break up the tea set to let the woman have the item out it she wanted.

My friend and I left the shop, embarrassed to admit we were American.  Later, I regretted taking the easy way out and not telling this obnoxious individual to back off, she wasn’t at home.   

Maybe that is what spurred me a couple of years later in Zimbabwe to come to the defense of the tour guide who met the group I was traveling with at the airport.  Once again, a member of our group (a woman) tore into the poor man when some of the luggage didn’t show up.  She just wouldn’t let up and no matter what he did to try and find an answer to where the lost luggage was, it wasn’t enough for her.  When she informed him this kind of thing wouldn’t happen in her country spurred me into action.  I hate people who expect things to be “like they are at home” when they travel abroad. 

I got into the middle of the situation, telling her we weren’t in America and Americans acting the way she was doing is one of the things that gives us a ‘black eye’ to the rest of the world.   She turned on me and yelled if my luggage was lost, I wouldn’t be standing around so calmly defending this ineffective individual.  It gave me great delight to respond, “My luggage is part of the missing bags also,” and walked away. 

She barely spoke to me the rest of the trip, but most of our other tour companions came up to me and said how glad they were when I stepped in.  Her actions made them embarrassed to be identified as an American. 

Those two happens were a number of years ago and I’ve become stronger in standing up to bullies in defense of others.  Having been the person who took the abuse, snide or just plain mean remarks directed at me in my younger years, I’m now happy to stand up for those who don’t think they can and for myself if there is a need.  For the stuff directed at me, some of it's not worth the bother to comment on, but defending someone who looks as helpless as I've felt in the past has become a different story. 

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt compelled to step forward and say something to someone who obviously crossed the line?  Did you do it or have second thoughts and not take action?

1 comment:

matriarchShene said...

I was cruising your blog and came across this tidbit of acting for the underdog.

The first time I remember doing it was in sixth grade and the nun we had as a teacher was a martinet. If we did not know our lessons, we were ridiculed while we stood in front of the class. Most would not laugh at our plight, knowing they too would be in the spotlight.

One day, the shyest and smartest girl in the class was in the ridicule position. She wet her pants leaving a puddle on the floor which heaped mortification upon her bowed head and then dripping eyes.

I stood up and yelled at the nun for her nasty spirit and meanness and then turned on the class and and told them it was not funny and their laughing was terrible.

I got sent to the principal's office - my grandmother was called, and I was thrown out of school for the rest of that day. For me, that was a reward. After that, I was considered by staff a 'bit of a trouble maker' but the kids thought it was cool.

A little later in the year, the girl asked me to her birthday party. I was the only one not of her family to attend. She wanted to show them her champion.

The following year we had a wonderful, joyful nun as a teacher. You just had to survive the sixth grade.