There have been many times in my life that I have been tempted to speak out, and have said nothing. Other times I’ve opened my mouth and it’s gotten me in trouble. It’s hard to know where the line is: stepping in or minding your own business. Over the summer was one such situation.
My mom, the boys, and I decided to grab breakfast one morning. We were promptly seated in a small section of the restaurant that was filled. In our section was us, a party of two gentlemen behind us, a pregnant woman on her own next to us, and a gentleman with his two young kids that were seated in the booth next to the two gentlemen. The table of two guys had been recognized by a large group of people. They all came and crowded our area to talk, very loudly I might add. The large crowd eventually settled into their own section and it was back to how we all started.
It was a normal breakfast din. Plates and silverware clanking, people talking and excited coos of the young child with the dad. As a mom with kids, I turn to look at the dad to smile at him and his kids. The baby was content, happy, and excited about his coming meal. It was then that one of the gentleman behind us turned to the dad and said sarcastically with a smile, “Is he going to do that the whole time? Either you need to move or I will because he’s bothering me!”
At first I thought they knew each other. How could the baby possibly be a bother over the noise of a very busy restaurant? Not to mention the large crowd they had just hosted five minutes before. I inquired whether they knew each other, and when the dad answered they did not, my jaw dropped to the floor.
Before I could even think, I turned to the man behind me and I said “I think YOU need to move. I can’t believe someone could be so rude! I’ve got kids here too; maybe they’re going to bother you too!”
The other guy at the table tried to explain that his friend was going through a lot, to which I replied “How do you know he’s not going through a lot? If you wanted silence maybe you should have met in a library!”
The pregnant lady at the table next to us echoed my sentiment, and with that, the two gentlemen asked to be relocated. I apologized to the dad if I had overstepped, and reassured him that his baby was in no way a bother.
It wasn’t until I paid our check that the father walked up to me and handed me a piece of paper with his wife’s contact information. Turns out his wife was on Capitol Hill, fighting to get affordable prosthetics for amputees, because she herself is one. He thanked me for using my voice to speak.
The point is: We are all going through something. Some more than others. But we have to learn to walk in each other’s shoes because it’s only then that we gain understanding and empathy. You never know if another person only has one shoe or maybe no shoes at all to walk in.