The Mean Man
Years ago, out of high school, I was a bank teller. That is actually what started my career in banking. I loved being a teller and I loved meeting new people all of the time.
In the early years of being a teller, it was a little nerve-racking to be entrusted to handle a drawer full of cash. I am talking amounts of cash you have never seen before in your life. I mean you want to do everything just right, you want to have your drawer balance out every day and all of the checks and balances in place.
One day a man walked into the bank. He cashed a check and I handed him his money. He accused me of shorting him and started screaming at me. Not only was he angry and yelling, but he was screaming profanity and becoming physical with his hands. He never touched me but he put his hands in my face and continued to yell until the point where I was in tears. He called me all sorts of names and demanded his $20.00 back. Yeah, he did all of that because he said I shorted him $20.00. It was brutal.
The manager came over to talk to the man and got screamed at as well. They closed my line and began to do an audit on my drawer to see if it was $20.00 over. It was not; it was exact. The man eventually left but he was still insisting that I was a thief and I had ripped him off. I had never even heard some of the explicatives he shouted until that day; it was very shocking that someone would do all of this. Even if I had shorted him (which I had not) it was way over the top.
As an 18 year old kid, I remember crying and not being able to breathe. I remember feeling like I wanted to throw up and as if I had just been punched in the gut. This man was violent in his ways and marked me for the rest of the day. I could barely focus after being verbally assaulted for 20 minutes. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, and I was afraid. I did not stop shaking for at least an hour.
For the next several days I walked into my job in fear. Had I done something wrong? Why would someone yell and curse like that? Was it going to happen again? Did I look bad in the eyes of my employers and co-workers? Do they think I really took his $20.00? After all, why would a man really act like that if he hadn’t truly thought I had stolen from him? It must be something I had done wrong. I must have made him act like that. Right?
Two weeks later I was pumping gas. I went inside to pay and noticed the line was extremely long. I went to find my favorite bubble gum and began to wait in line. Finally, from the front of the line, I heard it. It was the Mean Man! He was accusing the store clerk of shorting him and screaming at her! The whole line was backed up and the poor woman looked horrified! I was horrified! The people in line were horrified! He was berating her and he was out of control. Everyone felt uncomfortable. It was bad!
So what did I do about it? Oh yes, you all know how I am. I was not about to watch this go down! I marched up to the front of the line and in my loudest voice said, “This man is a fraud. I work at the bank down the street and he did the same thing to me. He is a con man! Don’t believe a word he says.” Just then the manager asked him to leave and the other customers he had been holding up in line started shouting at him to leave too. The Mean Man was a fraud!
After that day I had an epiphany moment. For days I felt bad about myself because I thought what someone had said about me was true. I let a con man dictate how I viewed myself. I let him make me feel less than, insecure and full of fear. I gave him power in my life and believed a lie. I let him make me feel that I didn’t measure up or that somehow I didn’t even deserve the job I had. When I saw him act like an idiot to someone else, I realized it was the Mean Man that had the issue. But what if I had never of seen him do that to someone else? Initially, I was convinced it must have been something I had done wrong for someone to get that mad. So, I am glad he got caught but what if he didn’t? And…who else in my life has made me feel hurt, shame, or fear that was really a con man in disguise as well? Who else had I given power to that I just maybe never saw in the gas line? And…how was I going to think of myself from this point forward?
I went on to do great things at the bank. I got promotion after promotion. My drawer was always in balance and I moved up levels in the bank that no other person had done before so quickly and so young. I remember the president of the bank standing me up in front of all of the executives one afternoon to sing my praise and he presented me with a check. It was the first of 3 checks that he would present me over the years for outstanding service. I also received a gold pin with a diamond and ruby in it. I was very young and very proud. What if I would have never seen the Mean Man behave rudely to another person? Would I have still become a loan officer at the bank and accomplished what I did? Or would I have allowed a spirit of fear to stay on me because I believed what he said about me?
Every day I encounter people who have had their life shaped by a “Mean Man”. It could have been a parent who mishandled you, a pastor, a boss, a friend, a stranger or someone else. You may not have gotten to witness them in the line at the gas station, but they are right there in the front berating the clerk just like they did to you when they were in your line. Not everything is as it seems with them. There is a path of destruction that follows them and it is not your issue. Honestly, I see this all the time. If you trace back situations where there have been not-so-great encounters with people, it is usually not a first for them. Don’t let them shape your life. Don’t let the incognito con man shape your future! Let who God says you are shape your life. He is the accurate picture of who you are and the only one to believe!