The Truth We Are Too Blind to See

Anger Symbol
Petar Pavlov / Foter.com / CC BY

Remember the guy in the Chick-Fil-A drive through? Indignant about Dan Cathy’s religious beliefs, he recorded himself ranting about it to the woman working the window. But things backfired after he posted it. When it was viewed by people who weren’t experiencing the adrenaline rush of confrontation, he looked like a jerk. He ended up losing his job and becoming an object of public mockery.

A similar video has surfaced. A woman in Florida, upset over not being given a receipt for her order and then allegedly being treated rudely by a Dunkin Donuts employee, goes into the same store the next morning to exact revenge. She states throughout the encounter that she’s recording it to put on Facebook. It’s clear that she thinks that she will be seen as the hero and that her video will cause all kinds of grief for the employees. Instead she looks foolish and the employees have been commended for keeping cool heads.

I’m fascinated by these videos. I worked several years in retail, and while encounters like these don’t happen every day, anyone who works with the public will deal with this kind of irrational behavior from time to time. (And yes, I realize this goes both ways. I’ve received rude service in my life, and I didn’t always handle myself well at work.)

One of the most telling encounters happened early in my career. A woman was accusing me of lying about her prescription copay (the internet was new back then, and people didn’t understand that we were just passing on the insurance claim, not coming up with the prices ourselves). She was mid-tirade when she realized that my husband and I were clients of her business, and that if I decided to take my business elsewhere, she was going to lose a lot more than the five dollars she was screaming at me about. Watching her try to backpeddle and soften her words was interesting. But what was especially interesting was her apology when she realized she couldn’t gloss over what she’d already said. “And here I was thinking that it was my turn, only to be yelling at one of my own customers.”

I think the phrase “my turn” is key. People in these situations feel like they are on a righteous crusade. In my example, the woman realized that I wasn’t an anonymous face, but someone she knew. I think these videos have the same effect. The camera reveals something that our anger conceals: The person receiving our wrath is a fellow human. Without the cameras people could shade the truth in their heads. When they told the story afterwards (and I’ve always believed people do this mostly to have a good story to tell later), they could adjust the story in response to their listener’s reaction. They could “forget” to mention how the other person was polite and apologetic, and only recount how they stood there silently. They could interpret the employees’ actions any way they pleased.

But when you throw in a camera, the camera doesn’t lie. You can’t spin it or shade it. It’s there for the whole world to see. And it underlines an aspect of human nature mentioned in Scipture: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

In other words, we’re not honest with ourselves about the depth of our sin. We believe ourselves to be better than we are, and we are blind to our own faults. When people post video encounters like these and get a different reaction than they planned, we get a rare glimpse into the phenomenon.

I felt very smug when I first saw the video. I enjoyed the idea of a rude person receiving their comeuppance. That’s wrong, too. I don’t go into retail stores throwing fits because I know how foolish it looks, but I know I have many blind spots in my life. I cringe to imagine what a camera would reveal about me if I could see myself in those sinful moments.

I’m thankful to have a Savior who died for all my sins, even the ones I can’t see.

Comments

  1. says

    I remember looking awful, maybe like a homeless person after jogging, and going into a 7-11. I felt I was treated poorly because I got a new cup. The sales clerk took it out of the garbage and I didn’t understand. I got an attitude with her and left. Later, after my shower, and God’s spirit worked on my anger, I went back to 7-11 and apologized to her. It turns out they counted cups for inventory. We smiled and made peace. So important to cut others slack.

  2. says

    Staci, this is such a reflective post. Your insight will stick with me.
    My husband is a fourth grade public school teacher and is sometimes on the receiving end of a poorly informed parent. One of those times he was told off pretty badly by an irate parent (Matt had busted her child for stealing) right in front of the principle. He handled himself calmly (somehow) & when she was done she emphatically stated that she had taped the whole thing and was turning it into the Board of Ed. It was the same scenario, she was basically condemning herself. Don’t know if she wised up or followed through on the threat…
    I think that it is easy for us parents to believe our children are being wronged and get fired up before we actually examine a situation.

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