My perspective

I drove up to a parking spot at the local beach with my kids. I stepped out of the van and realized that a lady was walking by that I knew from church. I cheerfully turned toward her and said, “Hi Mary! How are you today?” She kept walking the other way, so I assumed that she didn’t hear me. I jogged up to her and offered another friendly, “Hi Mary!” She stopped abruptly, spun around with a disgusted look in her eyes, thrust out her hand, palm toward me, and flatly spit out “Back Off.”

I was totally shocked at her outburst and dumbly stammered, “What?” She repeated her actions and loudly said, “Back off!” I didn’t have a clue why she was upset and followed her for another couple of steps asking what she was talking about. She didn’t turn back around but briskly walked away mumbling something about what a snob I was. I didn’t really know what to do, but realized nothing I said in that moment would change her reaction. I went on with my day, trying to remember a time when I may have inadvertently ignored her. I sent her a letter of apology asking her to please talk to me so we could work things out. I never heard from her. Shortly afterward, she moved out of town.

Her perspective

My day didn’t go very well today. I was looking forward to spending time at the beach with my kids, but then I ran into Beth. She drove up to the beach, stepped out and had the nerve to flippantly say “Hi” to me after what she did. I tried to ignore her, but she kept talking to me. Finally, I just turned to her and told her to “Back off.” I mean, does she think she can act all nice to me one day, and totally ignore me the next? She acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about. She kept following me asking what she did to offend me.

Well, I wasn’t about to let her off that easily. I just kept walking, leaving her to think about what she did. She sent me a letter asking me what she had done that made me so mad. I don’t need people like her in my life. I’m better off without her. Anyway, my husband got a job in another town so we moved. Now I don’t have to worry about running into her again.

Balcony view

At the beach today, there was an abrupt conversation between two women. One woman got out of her van and greeted the other by saying “Hi, Mary.” Mary apparently didn’t hear her because she kept walking. The first woman tried again, this time walking toward her with the same greeting. Mary turned suddenly and said, “Back off.” At this, the first woman appeared surprised but continued trying to talk to Mary.

Mary didn’t stop to talk. She mumbled something to herself and walked away with an angry expression on her face. The first woman turned back to her van looking very confused. The two ladies went their separate ways, tended to their children, and spent the morning playing at the beach.

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