How To Respond In A World Where Everyone Is Offended By Everything

, , , , | Right | January 7, 2019

I was shopping in our local superstore with my mom, wearing a shirt I got as a gift from my goofy brother, when I ran afoul of a lovely customer. The shirt is bright red with small white writing that says, “I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.”

I had been wandering through the clothing aisles for a few minutes when I noticed this older woman storming in my direction from the other end of the clothing section. She stepped between me and the rack of shirts I was looking at, pointed at my shirt, and said, “I find that shirt offensive!

Retrospectively, I have no idea what she expected. An apology for what was obviously a pointless joke, as opposed to a scathing criticism of people with real mental health issues? An attempt to defend my wardrobe to someone who felt a compulsion to cross the entire women’s clothing section to rage at me? Congratulations for being able to read print that small from that far away? Did she really believe the words “I’m offended” were a magical spell that allowed the user to harass random strangers at will?

Without even a pause to think of any of that, I replied, “And?” in a tone that clearly stated I expected her to have a better reason to be bothering me. Apparently, that response really threw her, because she stared at me with her mouth hanging wide open for quite a while before walking slowly back to her cart.

I turned back to the shirt rack and caught my mother laughing herself silly. She said, “I don’t think she’s ever had that kind of response to a complaint. Serves her right for being a grouchy old bat.” Mind you, Mom was about this lady’s age. This was years ago, and she and I still occasionally respond to a friend or family member’s complaint with, “And?” Also, I still have the shirt.

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