Last month’s Mussar dilemma asked the question about the cashier who opens a new till and then serves the people who lined up instead of inviting the next person in line (who has been waiting the longest) to be served first.
The choices were:
(a) Loudly tell the new cashier that the person in front of you should be served before the others in line.
(b) Say nothing and do nothing
(c) Wait until after you check out and then complain privately to the manager about the cashier
(d) Quietly speak to the person in front of you in line and let them know you are aware they should have been served next.
Option (a) is probably the most problematic since it will probably embarrass several people (the cashier, the people in line, the bystanders etc). It may correct the situation for fairness but it will introduce too many negative impacts.
Option (b) is the one most people default to. Mussar would teach us that if we do nothing because of our discomfort then we repair nothing and there is no growth and no opportunity. Doing nothing should be a carefully thought out choice, not a barrier preventing choice.
Option (c) has the advantage of privacy but perhaps it would be better to share the event rather than complain. Often times we feel that we should complain in order to correct an unfairness we perceived but complaining implies we are the judges and we know better and we are now ‘teaching’ the proper way. It will mostly serve our egos and any benefit beyond that is mere bonus. Sharing the event allows the manager to open a discussion with the cashier which has a greater potential of correction and growth.
Option (d) has strong advantages in that it maintains privacy and validates the other person’s feeling of unfairness. It provides a quiet moment of connection without ‘upping the bar’ toward manager, complaints and conflict. Sometimes all we need is a kind moment of connection with a stranger.