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Just Be Kind

Over a year ago, in a pre pandemic world, I took my daughter to a (now defunct) local video rental store and had one of the worst experiences of my life.

There was a sale and the employee didn't seem to understand what it was. I had seen it on the corporate Facebook page so I was pretty certain of how it was supposed to work. He wouldn't honor it and I asked to speak to the manager who he called. The phone call went spectacularly bad. In the midst of the call, the manager told me that she couldn't run the sale the way that corporate intended it because the store was in a bad neighborhood. My neighborhood.

Now listen, I'm not the type to run around with a bumper sticker on my car hailing how wonderful the Historic West Side Neighborhood that I live in is, but I do like my neighborhood. I live in my neighborhood because it is the one my parents chose to raise me in and the one that I have chosen to raise my daughter in. We have access to good schools, it is as safe as it can be considering the world we live in and we have nice neighbors. There are festivals for food, art and obscure musical instruments in the neighborhood and one of the loveliest parks in town. Not to mention the fact that the founders of the business that she was working in live in this neighborhood.

I was LIVID. By calling my neighborhood a bad neighborhood, this woman was calling into question my ability to make decisions on where I would raise my child safely. I chose this neighborhood. However, if I was in this neighborhood because circumstances did not permit me to be elsewhere, she was judging me for my ability to make decisions that would benefit my family and judging me for my inability, financially or otherwise, to change the situation.

I took to Facebook and my Facebook friends, and others, rallied around and agreed that she was wrong, my neighborhood wasn't a bad neighborhood.

However, beyond that, she was wrong for a bigger reason.

Neighborhoods do not have morals. They can be neither good nor bad. The people in the neighborhoods are both good and bad in every neighborhood.

If you can call a neighborhood bad because there are some idiots living in it that like to rob people or commit other crimes, then you also need to call the mansion filled neighborhoods bad that are occasionally home to people who, cheat on their spouses and taxes, and criminally under pay and overwork the employees of the businesses they lead. We won't even talk about the suburban neighborhoods that are sometimes home to opiate addicts that otherwise appear to be leading perfectly acceptable lives. Oh, and don't forget the privileged children who like to drink underage and shoplift, just for the thrill of it. Those neighborhoods must be terrible.

Moreover, if you are going to judge the neighborhood and the people that live in it, you have no business working in it. You do not belong in a position of supervision in a business that provides a service to a community that you cannot find it in yourself to respect.

People, of all sorts, deserve to be treated with dignity.

Today, in a Facebook group that I am in that is devoted to women who love to shop at Aldi (I really do love that store, lol) a woman told her experience having her groceries stolen from her by an employee. A man who justified his actions by telling her that she was shopping in a bad neighborhood and therefore could be denied curbside service. He also told her that she could not have the goods that she paid for and instructed a cashier to deny her those products. Without a refund or information about when she might have her money returned. All of this because she questioned him about his authority to deny her curbside service after he called the neighborhood bad.

How DARE Noah take a job in a store that services a neighborhood that he refuses to respect?

What gives him the right to declare that a neighborhood does not deserve the respect to not be degraded by people who are meant to provide a service in it?

How is it OK that a person that is charged to help safeguard the ability of a neighborhood to have access to affordable, quality food is sitting in judgment of that neighborhood's demographics?

Just where does Noah get off deciding that he can chastise people because of where they live or shop?

And how, exactly, does Noah think he can steal goods and limit the access of citizens to their purchases without recourse?

Now Noah will be dealing with corporate complaints from the women in the group for the next week. His job may even be in jeopardy because he couldn't dig deep and find kindness in his heart.... or even just pretend he wasn't mean.

I've said all of this to say, please remember that judgment is the enemy of kindness and humiliating someone because you can is just wrong. Please remember this as you go about your life and are dealing with people. It's so important that we dignify the experiences of other people instead of taking every opportunity to degrade them for their choices and for circumstances beyond their control.

Also, if you can't say something nice..... stop taking jobs where you think the people you will be providing services to or working with are beneath you. It's not rocket science.

Your neighbor,


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