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Menschen in a Coffee Shop

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” -Nelson Mandela

A close friend of mine, Nathan*, works in a coffee shop. One day, he was working when three girls walked in. Immediately, Nathan recognized the girls from the freshman class at his high school. While cleaning the counters, he overheard snippets, just words, of one of the girls talking to the other two. “Sammy… slut… all over him… her own sister doesn’t like her… Sammy Johnson.” At this, Nathan realized that they were talking about his sister. He walked over to them, and smiled politely.

“Hi, girls,” he said. The girls sighed ‘hi’ back, thrilled that a senior would be talking to them, mere freshmen. “Are you guys talking about Sammy Johnson?” The girl who had been telling the whole story nodded, while a look of disgust crossed her face. “Oh, well, I’m Nathan… Nathan Johnson. That was my sister you were just talking about, so don’t talk about her like that, get out of my coffee shop and don’t come back.” (Now, I’ve never heard Nathan speak out of line or ever raise his voice, but when I heard this story, the only thing I thought of was: Way to go, Nathan.)

The girls quickly grabbed their stuff and left the coffee shop, unknowingly walking into a rainstorm. The gossip of this event, and who was there, naturally spread quickly through the school.

Although only one of the girls was telling the story, they were all to blame, since the other two weren’t defending Sammy. This was the only part of the story I had for a while. Until I spoke to Sammy. She filled in the rest for me.

Sammy knew what guy they were talking about, and realized that a girl who looked very much like her from the back, had been sitting on his lap the day before, and said girl had been mistaken for Sammy. This doesn’t excuse what the girls did, and they shouldn’t have been talking about Sammy, or anyone for that matter, like that in the first place. All I can say is, Nathan had every right to kick those three girls out of the coffee shop for talking smack about his sister, and I would expect as much from anyone else.

In situations like these, ask yourself: What would a mensch do?

*Names changed to protect innocence

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