Last week I witnessed the owner of a shop selling drinks at the market in town verbally abusing a family. the unfortunate family had made a wrong decision to sit around the table belonging to the shop owner, an elderly bitter-looking woman; and ordering a glass of soya milk sold by a rival shop! The family consisted of a young woman, with her two children who were toddlers, and an elderly couple, presumably the grandparents of the kids.
I was seated at a nearby table with my family, after having taken great care not to sit at the ‘forbidden’ tables owned by the bitter woman! I’ve had bad experiences with this woman before you see and I never liked to drink sugarcane water (which was her specialty) in the morning anyways. I prefer caffeine.
Anyway, I was close enough to listen in to the unpleasant conversation:
Bitter woman (BW): What do you want to order?
Mum of kids (MOK): Oh, we have not decided yet. Please wait.
BW: Then what is that on MY table? (pointing at an offending glass of soy milk that the MOK had ordered for one of her kids)
MOK: Oh, I ordered that from that shop (indicating with her eyes where she ordered the offending beverage from)
BW (voice several decibel higher now): You cannot order from anyone else but from me!
MOK: Why is that?
BW: This is MY table! If you sit here, you can only order from me! You cannot put other people’s drinks on MY table! (voice now a full few hundred decibels higher)
MOK (quite distressed now): But but but…
BW: No! No! You go away. You cannot sit here!
The distressed mother had no choice but to evict her kids, the elder couple and herself from the sacred table and transplant themselves to another table nearby, taking along the offending glass of soy milk in order to avoid an ugly scene. To her credit, she did not raise her voice nor was she ever rude to the BW, probably out of respect for her age.
The BW continued to grumble and mumble quite loudly while proceeding to forcibly and loudly push away any offending chairs that did not belonged to her from the vicinity of her table.
Another woman asked her why she was unhappy and the BW said, “They didn’t want to buy from me, they don’t like my drink, they cannot sit here!”
She has done the same to me once or twice before. Nowadays I stay far far away from her shop and anything remotely looking like it belonged to her! I wonder what has turned this woman into the ugly bitter, unreasonable, never-smiling, always scowling selfish monster that she is now.
I pray and hope that one day, before it is too late, her life may be touched by divine grace so that she will realize that there are more important things in life than hogging empty tables and chairs.