Social Question

susanc's avatar

Can you tell a true story about asking a stranger to behave better, and having it work out really well?

Asked by susanc (16134points) May 26th, 2010

Sometimes people do bad or dumb things in public. They endanger or offend. But we’re scared to step in, because that’s not polite. Let’s tell stories about when we did and it worked out great.

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18 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

When I first moved to San Francisco I lived in a terrible neighborhood and I got mugged. I called the police and they took me to the station to give a statement. I had to ride in the back of the police car, which was not comfy, and I was super shaken up.

On the ride over, the police officer driving ran a red light. I yelled, “YOU JUST RAN A RED LIGHT! YOU COULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE!”

The officer—a total stranger—fell all over himself apologizing. He said he was so sorry and he hadn’t meant to scare me and he would never do it again. So I’d call that successful.

augustlan's avatar

I was out walking with my (young, at the time) kids and smoking a cigarette (I know. I am a horrible mother.) when 3 teenage boys approached us. One of them asked me for a cigarette. I told him he was too young to smoke, and asked him what kind of example we’d all be giving my kids if I gave him one. He seemed to understand, but as they were walking away his friends started ribbing him about the incident. They used quite a variety of foul (and loud) language while doing so. I yelled out, “Hey! I’ve got kids here, remember?” They looked abashed, apologized, and went on their (much quieter) way.

Of course, I then had a lengthy discussion with my kids… about smoking and bad words. :)

susanc's avatar

Here’s mine (and it’s recent, because I couldn’t have done this when I was younger).
A blonde matron, very fit, cut off a bunch of people in traffic in her big shiny offensive SUV. I followed her to the parking lot of the Safeway, where I hadn’t actually planned to go. I joined her walking into the store and said conversationally, “I don’t want you to drive that way any more. You could get hurt.” She said, “I know, I need to calm down.” I said, “Okay, good, can you?” She nodded and that’s all there was to it.

Theby's avatar

I was on a bus when an older woman with shopping bags got on. A bunch of school kids were sitting down and didn’t stand up for this woman. I walked up to them, told them they were being rude and that one of them should stand for the old woman. The closest boy to me went very red and offered his seat immediately to the old woman.

perspicacious's avatar

I once scolded a pharmacist about the way she was treating an elderly woman. A call needed to be made to the woman’s doctor and the woman could not really understand. I stepped in and told the pharmacist that she could certainly make that phone call for this sweet woman. The pharmacist was embarrassed, and did make the call.

zenele's avatar

I’ve told this story before: (GQ btw) I am the stranger in this one. He was pulling out of the parking lot in front of me, we both were getting into line behind a very jammed up line of cars. He was slightly ahead of me, but I was quicker. It was a warm evening, we were eye-to-eye, as the windows were rolled down and made eye contact for the purpose of not ramming into each other. He had the right of way, I was just quicker. He said: you know you’re an asshole, right? And I looked at him and thought “Yep. I was being an asshole.” Said “Sorry.”

Haven’t cut into line since. It aint worth it to bang up the car for one place in the queue anyhow.

Pandora's avatar

Just this past winter we had a heavy snow fall twice. One of my neighbors who helped me dig out my car after coming home to rest had someone drive into his open spot. His wife had to drop off her son and before she could come back someone took the spot. It so happen that we were both standing out there and when the young man stepped out of his car he proceeded to tell him that he needed to move his car because he did not shovel that spot. He then told my friend that he didn’t see his name on it and he could park anywhere. I got between them and told him that it wasn’t right. That my friend (whos job at the time was shoveling other peoples snow) although tired took the time to clear his spot and also even help me when no one else would help. And that if he wanted a clear spot that he was welcomed to shovel out a spot and that I would even help him. He appologized and realized that he could park in another spot that wasn’t shoveled out but where the snow had melted enough for his small vehicle to park.

john65pennington's avatar

Being a retired police officer, i have experienced this situation many times. one incident involved a 12 year old boy. his parents called the police, because their son was “out of control”. i arrived. his parents advised me that their son was upset because they would not buy him a cellphone. i approached their son in his bedroom and had a talk. in this child’s room, was every game imaginable and his parents had given him just about everything. his room proved this. our discussion was profitable. i told their son that his parents could not afford a cellphone at this time. i also told him that his attitude toward his parents was unacceptable. we talked for about 15 minutes. i advised their son that he only had one set of parents and once they are gone, they are gone. i further advised him to just wait a short while longer and maybe his parents could afford a cellphone for him. he said he understood. i think asked, “how about a hug for your parents?” we walked back into his living room and he gave his mom and dad a big hug and apologized for his attitude. the parents could not thank me enough. a few months later, i ran into his parents. they were at WalMart purchasing their son a cellphone. again, they thanked me and said their son did a 180 degree turnaround, after my discussion with him. mind you, this is the exception to the rule and not the normal. but, in my line of work, you take what you can and this made my month.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@augustlan I’m surprised they didn’t see the irony in any of your statements, :) because, surely, you already were setting an example for your kids by smoking.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I took a phone call from a client asking to speak to one of our dept. managers who was at the time outside with new clients and unable to retrieve a call. I told the caller the manager was with clients outside and would he like to leave his name and phone number with me to pass along a message or would he prefer to leave a voicemail? The caller barked at me to physically go get the manager, he then yelled into the phone at me, “I’m a customer dammit!” My reply was other customers were being given the same attention from the manager as the caller first received in our store and I would not interrupt that just as I wouldn’t have interrupted his private time. The man told me I was very rude then hung up on me but called a few hours later and apologized.

Primobabe's avatar

Yes. I’ve returned to college (just for fun), and I often hear students using very foul words, and very loudly. I tell them to watch their language; the way they talk in private is their own business, but their public behavior is everyone’s business. I explain that many, many people are offended by obscenities and shouldn’t be forced to listen to it.

I’ve done this many times, and—so far—I always get a good response. People are embarrassed and apologetic, and the profanities stop (at least for as long as I’m around!).

evandad's avatar

@nikipedia – Which neighborhood?

nikipedia's avatar

@evandad: “Lower Nob Hill.” I was on Jones between Sutter and Bush.

Silhouette's avatar

Was picking up my child from school and I noticed a teacher and a student going at it, the kid was yanked by the arm and slammed down on his butt and told to stay there. The teacher then left the area. The boy got up and was just about to take off and I told him, “You think he isn’t just hoping you’ll bolt?” He said, ‘you’re probably right” and sat back down. I arrived at the office in time to tell the principal about the teacher physically abusing the boy. The kid had disrupted the class by laughing but he didn’t deserve a physical attack by his teacher. The boy was let off with a warning and an apology from the bully teacher. I hope he learned a nice little life lesson that day

augustlan's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Oh, no doubt. Totally hypocritical, I’m sure! I just didn’t want to further sully their little minds with the idea that I thought it was OK for kids to smoke. :)

In my defense, I’ve always told them that starting smoking is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. They know I would prefer not to smoke, but I’ve never been able to successfully quit. :(

evandad's avatar

@nikipedia – I have heard that neighborhood called Lower Nob Hill before. It’s a euphemistic description. Outer Tenderloin is closer to the truth. I never had any trouble downtown, but I was mugged twice on the 15 bus, when they still had one. It can be a tough town. I love it though.

augustlan's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, the oldest one is just shy of sixteen, and the youngest is 12. So far as I know, none of them smoke. And if I ever catch them at it, there will be hell to pay!

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