The Power of Words (Ask Anna)

Words are powerful.
The rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” are false as anyone who’s ever played on an elementary school ground and suffered ribbing from classmates knows.

In fact, a Bible verse, John 1:1, attests to the power of words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

Our family experienced an example of just how powerful words can be a few weeks ago. In the middle of an afternoon, our daughter, the co-manager of a women’s apparel shop, manned the check-out area while a co-worker helped clients in the back dressing rooms.

A nicely dressed woman approached the counter with nothing to purchase. Noticing her empty hands, Anna expected the woman to ask a question.

Anna: “May I help you?”
The woman: “Give me the money in the register.”
Anna, scanning the other shoppers on the floor and wondering if anyone else had heard what she thought she’d heard, asked the woman to repeat what she’d said.
The woman: “Give me the money in your register.”
Anna, still not believing what was happening at 4:15 with ten other women sifting through racks of blouses, dresses, and cashmere sweaters, asked her again. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”
The woman: “Give me the money.”
Anna: “No. I’m not authorized to do that.”
The woman: “But I need it.”
Anna: “No.”
The woman gave up and left.

Only several minutes later, while she reported the incident to mall security, did reality replace the surreal aspect of the previous minutes, and she understood she’d just experienced an attempted robbery.

Yes, Sweetie, an attempted robbery is “a thing” even if the robber is unarmed.

As a mother, I’m thankful that my daily prayers for protection had been answered positively—again. I’m proud that she can think on her feet in a threatening situation. I’m irritated, too, that she hadn’t been trained for this sort of emergency, figuring it out as the scene unfolded.

As a writer, though, I’m reminded again of the power words wield.

Not authorized to do that? Official-sounding words, aren’t they? Official enough to thwart a robbery.

Yes, words can hurt, but they can heal (and woo, amuse, affirm, and encourage), too.

They can even fight crime.

Powerful, indeed.

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Posted on December 3, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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