Speaking Up is Hard to Do

Speaking Up

Writing Prompt: A Time You Wish You Had Spoken Up

At one point in my life, I worked in a famous department store.

One day I was standing near the cash register with another saleswoman I’ll call Patty.

On this day a woman and several children approached the register to ask us questions. A little boy said something that apparently his mother took exception to.


Suddenly the boy was on the floor.

It happened so fast and he was down before Patty and I realized what had happened. We were still trying to process this when the boy staggered to his feet and then again said something that his mother didn’t like.

Mother struck again.

He was on the floor again.

Patty and I stood there, jaws dropped. We glanced at each other. Should we call security?

We had the funny feeling that security was only concerned about shoplifters.

I knew that I would probably lose my job if I “caused trouble” – I live in an “at-will employment” state and they can use anything to fire you.

Actually, they don’t have to give any reason at all.

Could We Have Helped?

I also was aware that it would be my word against hers — and I’d also drag Patty into something that she would not want to get involved in.

However, we both felt really bad and guilty for not doing anything about it.

This is why child abuse doesn’t get reported as it should. People are afraid to get involved because YOU can get into trouble for doing the right thing.

In retrospect, I wish that I had called the police. Even though you could not get an outside line on the department phone, I did have my cell phone in my purse in the drawer.

We were also stunned that someone would knock down her child – twice – in front of total strangers. She seemed completely unconcerned about what happened and the whole group just wandered away.

We also wondered: if she did this in public to her children, what did she do in private?

Please read more about how to Change Myself For The Better!

You can also read my post about Black Friday – From the Other Side.

This was written for Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop

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  • Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly)

    Wow! How frightening that must have been. It's hard nowadays to "do something" because of all th reason you mentioned plus the person-in-the-wrong's reaction could have been similar to that towards her son. I've not had that experience out in public. I've had the opposite of that where the child wreaks havoc and isn't disciplined at all.
    On a side note, looking at your links to the right you've got some of my favorite reads/authors…I'm going to go check them out.

  • kelley jensen

    That is so scary and I know how you feel, I was in a woman's restroom once nursing my baby when a woman came in and smacked her kid around right in front of me. It made me cower in the corner and cry. I didn't know what to do but I felt so bad for the little boy. He was only 2. We should not be afraid to speak up. I never told anyone what I saw in the bathroom that day. Stopping by from mama kats kelley at the road goes ever ever on

  • Kathy

    That's horrible! We all like to think that we would do the "right thing" in that situation but then you're there in that situation and it's just not that simple. Try not to beat yourself up over it. I really hope that someone in their family or perhaps one of his teachers will step up and help that child; it sounds like he needs it.

  • Mama Kat

    Ugh! I hate being put in that position. I've had to call CPS a couple of times based on stories my daycare kids tell me and it's never easy. For me, I'm required to by law so it's kind of the opposite of what you were working with. I can lose my job if I don't say something…all jobs should have that requirement. Makes it a little easier!

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