Should I Have Spoken Up?

While waiting in a long queue to get my Kovid-19 vaccination, I saw two boisterous white men in front of me. At first, I made their noise up to excitement. But as I waited, I realized that they were harassing a big black woman who was in line in front of him. They were gathering her crowd and asking her to move on, even though she was maintaining a proper social distance, and spontaneously called out to her to “lift her legs” and “shut up.” The elder woman ignored them. And I was afraid to intervene for fear that men would turn their anger on me. What should I have done?


How heartwarming it is that the otherwise joyous experience – fear, suffering and death related to Kovid being vaccinated after more than a year – was married to this woman by persecution. I wish someone had protected him. But I also respect your fear for your safety. Bullying can increase not only for its victims, but also for dependents.

Nevertheless, there are strategies for such intervention and rescue situations: You may have briefly left the line to help someone who works on site or is physically imposing. Distraction can also be effective. For example, asking the men if they were queuing for their first or second shots, interrupted their mistreatment and set them on a different path.

Naturally, our first impulse in such cases is often to prevent abuse (and often to punish the abuser). But this is just as important for the victims. I may have included the woman in the line, for example, to support her. (This can be risky for you.) And I have to find him in the recovery area to make sure he wants to help or to have someone go out with him.

Credit …Christoph Neiman

My son 9. He was born a boy and identifies as one. He participates in football and Boy Scouts, and he likes clothes from the boys’ side of the store. She also likes her long wavy hair which falls under her shoulders. This is not a fight we feel like taking with him. Other school boys have similar hairstyle. Issue: It is very common for strangers to refer to my son as “your daughter”. What is the best way to deal with it? The last time I cured someone slowly, he looked at me as if I had gone mad. How can we support our son’s choice when others are not allowed to tell him wrong?

Uncle Bear

The striking omission from your question is how your son feels about strangers referring to him as a girl. If it doesn’t bother him, then gently correct people and stop worrying about their obvious secret. Who cares what strangers think? I am more concerned about your feelings. For example, the “fight” you are not referring to with your son means you may be in a team haircut.

Here’s the thing: The traditional division of hairstyles, clothing, and activities into “male” and “female” types is artificial (even though we’ve polished them very strictly for ages). However, times are changing, and many people are starting to get lax about gender markers. Why should a boy not have long hair or a girl to play football?

Now, the caveat here is that if your son is troubled by misunderstandings. If he is, explain to him that in the past, boys had their hair cut short. So, a person with long hair can appear as a girl. Ask if the occasional misleading bothers him enough to cut his hair. (If he likes it, I hope he feels safe enough to keep it. But I don’t get a vote.)

My daughter is getting married on the West Coast. We want to give him a party on the east coast in July. We are about to send an invitation. Is this a polite way of saying that only those who have been vaccinated can come?


Why does a random date or your impatience (which I completely understand) jeopardize the health of your guests? Catch up on party plans! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people avoid large gatherings at this time.

I (probably 🙂 You are not qualified to estimate these guidelines or to predict when they may change. When the CDC announces recommendations for the type of party you want to give (including immunization questions), set the date and then send your invitation. Armed with the facts, we can also deal with invitation words.

My neighbors, who have always seemed out of me, have started walking their cat on a neighborhood lease. It looks super weird! May I ask him what he gives?


Sure, but I won’t lead with “super-weird”. Say, “Novel how to look at your beautiful cat on one hand! Was it hard to train her?” Most of us have been in different states for over a year now. This walk – which does not hurt anyone, including the cat – can be the highlight of your neighbor’s day. Who are we to judge him?

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to, to Philip alleys on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip On twitter

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