While shopping at Hamilton “City Centre” (that’s not a typo), I ran into a bit of excitement. It seems a man, who by appearances must have been at least partially unstable, was throwing a very loud tantrum outside a shoe store in the mall. Now, despite what you may have gathered from all those episodes of Married With Children, a shoe store is generally a place of very little amusement or excitement.
In this case, like some bizarre stand up routine, this middle-aged man had gathered quite a crowd staring at him like an awkward yet fascinating piece of performance art, as he shouted words of wisdom about the perils of patronizing this particular establishment.
Debbie and I commented on him, as he stood facing an employee of the store shouting about how the shoes he bought had fallen apart. I was content to continue on my way. There was already enough spectators, and if i stopped to be entertained, I might have felt obligated to throw him some change for the privilege. Truthfully, I’ve paid people for less.
We walked by, leaving the holiday gawkers to stare at the spectacle of a heart attack waiting to happen, and continued on our way. About thirty feet away, things became even louder if that’s possible, and I looked back to see that the man and the employee were now grappling with one another. Now, normally, I wouldn’t get involved in such things… but, and perhaps I can blame previous jobs of mine, I was compelled to run over and try and resolve the situation.
I did what anyone with my advanced level of conflict resolution skills would have done. I stood nearby and suggested the man “calm down” and “relax”, and “just calm down” and “relax” some more. Then I suggested, as the employee tried to little avail to pull his arm away that the guy “let go of him”, and when he didn’t, I placed my arm on his, assuming I’d have to motivate him to let go myself. By this time there was one security guard who was there, and was making the same suggestions as myself. He did let go of him. I suppose there’s a certain impression one gives when making physical contact while instructing someone. A kind of confidence that says “You’ll do this, or I’ll help you to”. I never had to apply force. He let go within a second of me touching his arm. Shortly afterwards, another security guard sauntered in, and I backed off to let them deal with it. After all, I don’t want to be that much of a volunteer, and I didn’t expect I’d get the mall to slip me a gift certificate for helping them keep the peace.
A female employee came out from the store, and gave him a bag with shoes in it, saying, “Here. Brand new!”, but he was still yelling as the security guards tried to escort him away. It leaves me wondering a couple of things. Why, with nearly 20 people standing there and staring, was I the only person to intervene? Why did I intervene, at all? Sure, it gives me material for my latest blog entry. Sure, it won me the respect an admiration of all those valuable onlookers. None of them had the candor to ask me for an autograph, but I’m sure they wanted one. I could have taken them all to the photo shop for some group shots with some killer poses, and they could have had it framed and placed right next to their Chuck Norris and Judge Judy keepsakes. But, really, with a fan club like mine, who needs to pursue such selfless acts of self-promotion. Besides, It’s just too ironic.
So life went on. The guest choir of children from the French immersion school sang their Christmas carols, and the mall Santa made small talk with his teenage elf. I found myself wondering what Christmas carol that was with that recognizable tune but intangible lyrics, and what commercials got enough play this season to be on the hearts and minds of this generation’s believers.
Why did I get involved? To be honest, my shoes are in desperate need of replacement. I know of a certain little shoe store prized for it’s stellar customer service. It’s got great reviews, and potentially greater discounts, and an employee who would be all too grateful to see a familiar face. Ayn Rand sees right through me.
Happy holidays, world. Try not to tear one another apart over shoddy soles. That’s what religion is for.