Dear Miriam | Stay Out of Supermarket Drama


Dear Miriam,

I was grocery shopping this morning, and a fellow customer was furious at an employee at the store for something that sounded like a very minor incident. He was talking to me and other customers about contacting the manager and trying to have her disciplined. I frequent this store, and while I walked away without saying anything, I’m wondering if I should go back and warn the employee. What do you think?


Supermarket Drama

Dear Drama,

You should stay out of it. So far, you’ve done a great job of that by not engaging with the angry customer and by going about your shopping without letting this impact you or your plans. That’s the right direction, and you should stay the course.

I hear that you’re inclined to defend the employee over the customer, and I agree that customers are most certainly not always right. If you’ve ever worked in retail, you know what I mean. However, if the employee actually said or did something inappropriate, you don’t want to put yourself in the position of defending bad behavior.

If you had seen what happened, you may be justified in taking sides and speaking up, but since you didn’t see the incident in question, you’re not a reliable witness one way or another.

Since you frequent the store, be sure to take the opportunity next time you’re there to be especially kind to the employees. If someone — whether the employee who was being targeted today or not — shows you especially good service, tell a manager. Retail work is hard work, and dealing with the public can be extremely stressful, especially over the past couple of years. Any amount of compassion you can muster is worthwhile.

That said, there have been lots of strains on customers, too. Though I want to reiterate that there is no sense in your getting involved here, ultimately, whatever happened in the store is one small symptom of people not treating each other as well as they could. While I would always urge you to speak up in a case of true injustice, I don’t think that’s in play here.

Rather, I hope your takeaway from this morning can be to seek out opportunities for patience and camaraderie and to look for chances to promote kindness and empathy.

Be well,



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