How To Fight Back Against Mean–A Storytime

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Sometimes people will wrap up a mean comment in something else, like an innocent question. Here is a story of how to fight back against mean. Don’t understand what I mean? Keep reading!

The background

When I was in my twenties, I worked as a sales associate at an upscale department store in a local mall. I loved my job, and only a few of the people I worked with. 

Looking back, I can see I worked in a toxic workplace; but at the time I didn’t know. Anyway….

Anytime I went to lunch, I would go out into the mall instead of to the store’s employee break room. Down in the middle of the mall, there was a little snack bar that sold sandwiches, drinks, etc. 

Usually, I would get a sandwich and a drink for lunch. Then go and sit on one of the backless wood benches near the mall entrance. 

This was my favorite spot! On bright sunny days, a huge amount of sunlight would come shining in through the four glass doors that stood there. After being in a building without windows all day, it felt great to see some sunlight.

My lunch break would be 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the shift I worked. During that time, I would eat and read a magazine or book. Sometimes, if I had time, I would browse the shops or play a few video games in the mall’s arcade. 

For those of you who are too young to remember, these were places where people would go and play video games. They were like a Chuck E. Cheese without the food and drinks.

The walkways, stores, and levels inside a shopping mall. Blog graphic for blog post for How to fight back against mean--a storytime

What happened that day

Well, while I was sitting and reading a book, a lady and her teenage daughter walked up to me. The woman asked me where I bought my clothes. 

This question threw me off. I wasn’t used to folks coming up to me in the open mall and talk to me. At work, yeah! I worked in a trendy department–the Junior’s department–so I was always asked where I got my clothes. This was the first time I had been asked this by some random person. Especially when I was alone in my ‘spot’.

I guess the lady saw the confusion on my face because she asked me again where I bought my clothes. Then added “Because you (meaning me) are so little. I was wondering where you buy your clothes. In the children’s department?” 

Now I ask you, what type of person walks up to a stranger in a mall and gives them a backhanded comment?

I sat there truly aghast at the whole situation! The more I thought about it, I didn’t like her joking tone either. Then it angered me how this woman felt comfortable enough to approach me and say something so disrespectful!

I remained calm, though I wanted to yell at her; but I knew that wouldn’t settle anything. So I decided to be honest but return it in the way it was sent; without the joking flavor.

So in a firm tone with alittle bit of anger I said, “Well, it depends”. Then I looked her dead in the eyes and said, “Sometimes I find clothes in the junior department. Sometimes I find clothes in the Misses department”. 

My tone must have gotten through to the woman, because as I spoke her expression changed from smiling to surprise. The look on her daughter’s face had changed also. The mother began to back up, but I kept talking. “Sometimes,” I said with the same direct look in her eyes, “I get them in the petite department. It just depends.” 

The woman quickly said “Oh”, and walked off with her daughter.

That, whatever it was, still baffles me to this day.

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Photo by ahmed zid on Unsplash

What I learned

I learned that there are people out there who will disrespect you but make it seem like something else. They’re throw alittle joke in there and make it sound like it their playing with you. Address it, because it will come back. Just squash it and move on!

The takeaway

Now if you don’t know you’re being disrespected, that’s one thing, but if you clearly know you’re being disrespected, you have two options. You can use your voice like I did, or you can walk away.

Just know that sometimes people will wrap up mean as something else. So be aware and ready to fight back against mean.

Just saying! 

If you have a story or comments you’d like to share, please put them in the comment section below. They are greatly appreciated.

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