Saturday, June 27, 2009

The incident

I was reading a friend's blog today and she writes about being haunted by a worrisome incident in her past that she was powerless to do anything about.

This reminded me of an incident in a grocery store some years ago. I think about it every once in a while and it continues to bother me.

I had pushed my cart half-way down an aisle when a family of four was coming toward me. The father, a 40-ish beerbellied type was pushing the cart. When our carts came side-by-side, the man was barking orders to a boy of around 10 on what grocery items to grab and put in the cart. The boy darted back and forth while the man kept harassing him and calling him stupid.

The scariest part was that close behind the guy were huddled a woman and teenage girl. They cowered close together with expressionless faces. The disturbing scene screamed ABUSE. I was angered and appalled that this was going on right in front of me. I desperately wanted to do something. I stood there watching for a moment while I debated whether to ask the woman if she needed help but she didn't make eye contact with me. I was afraid of making the situation worse. I looked around and other carts were now coming down the aisle but those shoppers were trying to ignore the whole thing. Reluctantly, I moved on and I have felt guilty ever since.

I always wonder what happened to that poor woman and her kids. I stew about what I should have done--alert the store manager? Intervene no matter what? Call the police?

I try to comfort myself that maybe the management saw the incident on security cameras and stepped in to help. But still...

(You can check out my friend Pearl's blog at


Sparrow chic said...

Don't we all live with woulda, shoulda, couldas ? I have tons of them. I've lived with the times I did step in, and regretted it. I even had a friends husband make a pass at me, and told my friend. She wound up resenting me !!! I fight the crusades I know I can handle now.

Chris said...

Maybe alerting the store would've worked . . . if they ended up paying by check, the store would have their address and the police could've dropped by to check things out.

Water under the bridge, though. Hope they all turned out okay.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

Ms. Sparrow, you did what you could. Don't reproach yrself.

One of my sisters is a social worker and she says DO NOT CONFRONT ABUSERS because if they are acting that way in public, the family could pay big-time in private, and that you are dealing with crazy demented people.

Her rule is if it's clearly abuse, she calls the cops, off out of sight and unknown to the nut. But often she gets the brush-off even though she is with CPS. If a child is getting hit, she calls 911.

There was absolutely NOTHING you could have done more in that situation.

Ms Sparrow said...

Thanks for the supportive info, folks. I still wonder whatever happened to that poor woman and her kids. Especially the little boy. Will he grow up to pattern his father's behavior? Will the abuse roll on for another generation?