Of Wrath and a Soft Answer

Yesterday I had a peculiar experience with a very angry person. I cannot go into precise detail, but it involved a highly influential public official who had parked his car on our sidewalk which is on our business property at work so he could spend time in the local sports bar. It involved a showdown with him trying to call me out publicly in the store and me gently reminding him of what he should already know, given his occupation: he cannot park his car on the sidewalk and then come into a store, cuss out the employee who had politely asked for it to be moved to one of the many open spaces, and then expect not to be held accountable.

So, in response to his wrath, I chose gentleness and a smile with firmness. I told him he should know better and that he should be ashamed of his behavior. I reminded him that he doesn’t know me, nor I him. I informed him that I took down his vehicle license number and description so that if he does it again, I can respond appropriately. He quickly backed down. He even handed me his card. We concluded with a few handshakes and a new understanding. To his credit, he was willing to listen. Hopefully it was because a soft answer helped to de-escalate the situation; a soft answer poised to act decisively within the bounds of appropriate justice.

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