Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stealing with My Mouth

When I was selling clothes at a department store, we learned to watch out for a particular woman who frequented our store. She would see a sales clerk and start talking fast and keep at it until the clerk looked around for rescue. If the clerk started backing away, she would follow, sometimes holding onto her victim’s arm to keep him from escaping. Finally, the clerk would look to the far end of the store and make up something about how he was needed somewhere else, then would hurry away.

As soon as he left the woman alone, she would swoop up as much merchandise as she could and walk out of the store without paying for it. We never caught her in the act, but we figured out what she was up to.

It’s a bizarre reminder to us loquacious people that we need to remember how much attention we demand from others, even if we’re not trying to shoplift.

Talking too much is selfish. It demands a lot from people who are more polite than we are. And we can end up chasing people away.

Perhaps it’s not the most severe problem in the world, but consider that if I’m slow to speech, I will hurt someone’s feelings less often. My dad used to tell me, “never miss a chance to be quiet, because you can’t unsay something once it’s out.”

The woman who stole from the store reminds me that talking too much steals from others. We give more to people if we stop talking and receive what they are saying.

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