Use your head and tongue to help

.

MIRANDA BROOKWELL

Youth Correspondent

“He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.” – William Shakespeare

The human tongue is supposed to be so useful; yet we can’t use it to gulp down food and water like a dog, nor can we use it to catch our supper like a frog. We can’t even use it to sense as a snake does. No, we cannot use our tongue for those nifty things but we are granted the amazing gift of speech, which in my opinion, outweighs all other perks.

And yet with this fabulous talent that allows a chunk of muscle to help us form sound, how many times do we forsake it? How many times have you been caught in a position where you could’ve done something wonderful with the words in your heart, but you choked them back? When you could’ve actually put that lump of muscle to good use, but didn’t?

I found myself in that very situation only a few short days ago. While at Cross Iron Mills Mall outside of Calgary, my mother and I witnessed an incredibly awkward situation between a cashier and an angry client. The client was in the process of tearing a large figurative strip off of the poor girl at the till, and all to do with something about a gift card. She snapped, she shouted, she raged — all while other customers stared in shock, before hurriedly grabbing their purchases and scurrying out of the store.

My guts churned uncomfortably with sympathy for the cashier, who, on the verge of tears, picked up the phone and called a manager. It was 10 minutes to closing time.

I want to tell you that I did the right thing. I want to tell you that I stood up for the cashier, and told that old hag where she could put her gift card. I want to tell you that I made things better, that I allowed my tongue and heart to work together right that instant.

But it didn’t happen quite that way. We exited the store, fuming about the customer in question, and I felt guilt (my least favourite emotion) creeping through me like a disease. I could not believe that I let that poor girl’s night be ruined by a woman who clearly just needed to pick a fight. I had the opportunity to speak, and I stuffed it back down.

We’ve all heard, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” and that is completely true. In grade school, we learn about bullies and the harm that one can do by simply being a bystander. It’s usually portrayed in cheesy films most likely made in the ’70s, and it doesn’t seem like a big issue at all. But then when we experience it in real life, in a far more vicious situation than we’ve seen in those “educational videos”, do we always know how to properly react? It seems to me that our society has somehow decided that minding our own business is polite, even when it allows people to get hurt. That doesn’t seem right to me.

Back at the mall, I sipped a hot chocolate and attempted to swallow my guilt as well. I’m not sure why it bothered me so much, but I couldn’t shake it. So I picked up the phone, and at the risk of sounding like a complete creep/idiot, I phoned the store. I poured out my heart — how wrong I thought the situation was and how sorry I was that I had not said anything to make it better. To my surprise, the girl promised to pass my message on to her friend, the cashier, and thanked me for my phone call.

The cashier was a total stranger to me. I had never seen her before in my life. But that didn’t matter. Please, to everyone who might read this, do not be a bystander. It doesn’t matter if it’s in line at the grocery store, or on your street, or in your school. Every word you don’t say in a time of need has a price. And often, it has a much greater cost than the words you would say.

So spill the beans. Stick your neck out. No one will hear your bell if your clapper doesn’t work. Take the risk, and change someone’s day.