Lessons At the Check-Out

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Knoxville, TN 37902

“Toxic language contaminates the soul.”

In the November 5 issue of the Metro Pulse, I was quoted on an article written by Frank Carlson (my last name was misspelled but I am used that!) on the language used by anonymous writers posting on knoxnews.com. [“Care to Comment?”] The quote came from my contribution to a community dialogue moderated by the News Sentinel and the point I wanted to make then was on the damage that listening and reading negative language can do to our soul. A few weeks ago, I was on the receiving end of an angry outburst where no words were directed at me but that was just as toxic and contaminated my soul as strongly as any insult can.

Two of my granddaughters had asked me to take them to Walmart to buy school supplies. We were ready to pay and I looked for a self check-out, trying to get out of the store quickly. I saw one gentleman finishing at a middle aisle and went there, followed by my granddaughters. I did not see another “gentleman” approaching the machine from the opposite side, but when I reached the machine and looked at him, he gave me a look that froze my heart. My granddaughters were proudly showing me the colorful notebooks they had selected and I turned to look at them when I felt something flying over my head. As I turned, another item flew by my face and landed on the counter, followed by another one. The man wanted to make sure that his selected items reached the counter before we had time to place ours!

When we recovered, I called the girls to the next cashier and used the experience as a teachable moment. We talked about what happened, why, and better ways to deal with anger and frustration. But I could sense how scared the three of us were when trying to get out of the store while looking up and down for the angry man.

Mister, I was not trying to cut in front of you. That is not a behavior that I want to teach my granddaughters. I did not see you, and you did not give me time to get me and my granddaughters out of your way, but thanks for the teachable moment.

Loida C. Velázquez

Knoxville

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