That was the question that was asked of me as I asked a man to stop yelling at the bus driver as I got my kids off the bus. Since I wasn’t quick enough on my feet, I didn’t respond. But as I walked with the kids, I kept thinking about his question: “Did YOU hear anything BAD?”
Technically, I didn’t. But then again, that would depend on whose definition of bad we’re using.
A little context, please… Oh yes. One serving of context coming right up.
As I’m getting my kids off the bus, I hear the bus driver honk. Turning to look, I see that my son has crossed in front of a car coming down the road. I yell his name and start after him just as the man in the car is getting ready to drive (illegally) in front of the bus. The bus driver yells.
“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO STOP!”
The man is angry. “I’M 54 YEARS OLD, I KNOW WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO!”
Back and forth they yell at each other, the bus driver in the interest of protecting the children in her care, the man in the interest of protecting his pride.
In the meantime, I have completely lost sight of one of my children and the other is horrified listening to this man yell at her bus driver.
I turn to him, irritated that his irresponsibility has disrupted my normally enjoyable moment with the kids. “Could we just stop? Do we really need to do this in front of the kids?” I say to him. I’m not stopping to chat though, because we’re in the middle of the road, and confrontation really isn’t my thing.
That’s when he yells after me. “Did YOU hear anything BAD?”
I shake my head in disbelief. When I’m home, and its much too late to respond to his question, I think to myself
No sir, I didn’t hear anything bad, if your definition of bad means that you didn’t swear or call names. What I did hear was you being incredibly disrespectful to a woman who is trying to protect children who can’t protect themselves. Sir, if you’re 54 years old, you’re old enough to know how to speak to a lady and admit when you’re wrong. You’re also old enough to know that the safety of children trumps whatever immediate need you have, and that a school-bus full of kids just watched you throw a temper-tantrum like a five-year-old.
Ultimately, the message had little to do with the absence of name-calling and swear words, and more to do with what it looks like to be an adult.
Bad words? No. Bad example? Yes.