Stop Yelling at Me!

When do you raise your voice with angry words of protest?

I’ve heard voices raised at:

  • Fast food employees
  • Insolent children (at least in my house)
  • The double-parked car (there’s a personal Hell waiting for these people)
  • My dying laptop (sigh)

Take the first from the list. I’ll spare the rest, but I will share this one real account of everyday life.

Dusk settled in and people crammed into a fast food lobby for less-than-stellar sustenance. A previous customer, a tall and wide disgruntled man, loomed over the stainless steel counter, snarling over less-than-stellar customer service as his teenage daughter looked on, embarrassed.

The man pointed a thick finger at one of the employees behind the counter and marked her for missing an item on his order. His voice boomed across the whole length of the counter and all fell silent around him.

“It’s right there in front you!” he yelled, pointing at the missing quarter-pounder on the sandwich chute that belonged in the crumpled sack his cowering daughter held in silence. “It’s the one that’s probably cold as hell by now. Can’t you see it!”

The employee, her voice low, responded with apologies at first, but then her voice rose after he said, “You must be stupid.”

It would take more words and a skilled court stenographer to dictate the heated exchange that followed from that point on between the man and the employee. Upper fast food management came to the rescue, but they saw and conquered nothing. Even the refund was made in vain, appeasing nothing. The man left these parting words: “I’ll never come back here again. And if everyone is smart, you won’t let that bitch touch your food.”

The unhappy customer walked out before anyone could respond, his daughter in tow. As if by theatrical direction, all eyes then fell on his nemesis to see her reaction, but the fast food worker, her face hard as stone, merely shook her head and continued her work, muttering words under her breath that would best be left unheard.

I activated the holographic visual recorder implanted in my right eye to play back the scene. Okay, I don’t have one of those yet, but I did try to recollect what this unhappy guy was like before the debacle ensued. I had been a few customers back in line, and I remember he acted normal as anyone, resigned, grunting the start of his order in a mild tone and had even placed an affectionate hand on his daughter’s shoulder to get her attention while ordering. Who knew a forgotten burger would set the guy off?

People screw up.

I once backed into a stranger’s car early one morning. Happy Monday. The damage resulted in scuffs on car paint, thankfully, but damage nevertheless. Car damage, even the slightest, is more dangerous than forgetting your fries on your value meal, but the exchange between me and the other driver went pleasantly, almost jovial on both parties. Why is that? I can only recount that voices remained at normal levels.

We may never know what triggers bellowing like the unhappy blowhard that sought an audience so he could proclaim someone stupid for forgetting his cheeseburger. Perhaps you agree with him. You raise your voice when injustice has been served to you. To do anything less is a sign you are weak and unworthy of happiness. Then by all means, pursue your form of happiness. Fight. Scream. Yelling can be a craft with its own merit and there are plenty among us that filter life this way to achieve goals (bill collectors unite!).

We’ve all been wronged at some point in our lives, whether intentionally or not. When it happens again, I ask that you take a moment before inhaling your lungs full of air to break loud, sonorous verbal wind toward someone. Could it be handled another way? Is it really a life-and-death matter? Is it really worth verbal abuse? Is there really such thing as giving someone a piece of your mind? Will all this really matter on your deathbed? Is that heart-unfriendly burger or those few lost dollars really worth a coronary or a fisticuff? If so, raise thy voice. Otherwise, save those vocal cords for singing and spare the world one less act of negative energy.

“You can’t get your head around something if you’re yelling.” -Henry Rollins


“Words are wind.” -George R.R. Martin

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