See Something Wrong, Say Something: A Story


I stopped at Walgreen’s, one Sunday afternoon. My mother rode shotgun and we needed a couple of bottled waters, she had to take her pain meds.

As I entered the store, a woman stood in line, roughly full-term. She looked ready to give birth at the check-out counter. Being observant of her, I checked for a wedding ring and found none. And, I noticed she was alone.

I shrugged it off.

There’s plenty of single mothers. My mom was a single mother, who worked three jobs while pregnant with me (until she had to quit two of the jobs towards the end of her pregnancy).

After buying my water, I headed back to my car. Mom sipped the water taking her pain medicine.

“Did you see that pregnant lady? She was massive!” I said.

“I saw her walking past, wasn’t paying any attention.” She said.

I thought aloud: Did she need a ride somewhere? Was she waiting for a bus in this Florida heat? Maybe, she needs a couple of dollars for food or stuff for the newborn?

For some odd reason, I started to feel guilty. As if I could have done more to help this lady.

As we pulled away from the store, and in front of a stop sign before entering a major intersection, I watched cars roll to a stop. Drivers were rolling down their windows, yelling things out of their vehicles.  What on Earth happened? A drug bust? Road rage?

The pregnant woman from the store was being followed by a man. I assumed he was the baby’s father. He was swinging a grocery bag with a single random item inside of it. She was waddling, quickly, ahead of him…, all while smoking a cigarette.

Internally, I warred with my thoughts:

Should I say something?

No, I can’t judge her, it’s her body. 

But, there’s a baby. 

So what? It’s not my kid. 

Yeah, but I need to do something.

My thoughts finally screamed: No, just ignore it, it’s not your kid, your body, or your life. Just drive your car and mind your business.

I ignored my brain and I rolled the window down.

“Hey! Excuse me, sir! Tell her, STOP smoking that cigarette. She’s going to ruin her child!”

The man stopped, he looked scruffy. The pregnant lady started to jog while puffing.

“Yes, I know. I told her not to smoke. She told me ‘she can do what she wants’. Do you have any money for us?” He asked while walking towards my vehicle.

I rolled up the window part way and continued talking to him.

“What she’s doing is wrong, do you know that?”

“Yes, but she’s a grown woman.” He reached into the grocery bag holding up a phone charger. “Do you want to buy this from me? Five bucks. Five bucks!”

“You’re creating a child that will have future health issues.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure you don’t want to buy it?” He stopped at the corner of the intersection on the sidewalk.

“NO. What you need to do is get a job. Support your kid! Don’t expect other people to do it for you. Home Depot is hiring!”

I pulled away from the stop sign, fuming mad.

My mom just shook her head in shame.

“Can you believe that mom? She’s pregnant! She’s going to kill the baby…,” I rambled on and on.

“I know.” She said.

I realized, I can’t make other people change.

But, if I see something that looks or feels wrong, I’m going to speak up, even if I don’t make a change.

Because I saw other drivers waving and giving me thumbs-up while I was talking to the parents-to-be.

And, they knew what I was saying was true.

Hopefully, the mother and father will get it together before bringing their new life into this world.

Do you think I should’ve minded my own business, and keep my mouth shut? What would have you done in this situation?