I have rarely been so angry.

Last week, Kathi called me at work. We were in the process of selling a car, and the prospective buyer had asked us to drive it over to her mechanic friend for an inspection. No problem, we thought.

Until Kathi arrived at the seedy used car lot where the mechanic friend worked.

Out came a salesman. Immediately, Kathi’s radar went off – “Houston, we have a problem.” He introduced himself, and looked her over… a little too thoroughly. Now, my wife is a beautiful woman, and she was looking particularly good that day. But she didn’t get the sense that this guy was admiring her outfit.

After stammering through what she was there for, she handed him the keys, trying to leave as quickly as possible. Then he asked if the mechanic had any way to reach her. She gave him her cell number.

Then it happened.

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a $5 bill, and wrote her name and number on it. Surprised, Kathi asked why he would use a $5 bill.

His response: “What, you don’t want your name and phone number getting around town to every guy out there?”

“No, I don’t,” she said. She was so shocked, she hardly knew what to say. “I’ll scratch it out, don’t you worry,” he said. Kathi turned around and quickly walked out. Then she called me.

Being an hour and a half away, there was little I could do at the time, except see red. There is something deep within my spirit that wants to defend my wife in a situation where she, or her honor, are threatened. Some of the most primal instincts within me were screaming. But I was helpless, and practically shaking with rage. If this guy was trying to be funny, I wasn’t amused.

After talking it through a bit, amazingly, the situation got even worse. Kathi received another call from our prospective buyer. She had gone to the used car lot to get the mechanic’s report, and bought another car.

At that point, we were concerned that we would get our car back at all, after handing the keys to the scumbag salesman. So Kathi, God bless her, did the unthinkable.

She went back to the used car lot, retrieved the car, and exchanged $5 bills with the salesman.

He seemed surprised that she wanted the $5 bill he had written on, but she insisted. “I scratched your name and number out, see?” She didn’t respond, and walked out. Kathi – 1, Scumbag – 0. Her behavior was a model of grace under pressure. What a woman.

What did I do about it, you might ask? Well, it’s not emotionally satisfying, but not much of anything. Kathi just wanted me to drop it. On the way home, I prayed a rosary for my wife, and even for the scumbag salesman – and resisted all the deep-seated emotions and desires to lash out that I knew weren’t emanating from the Holy Spirit.

I took a picture of the $5 bill for posterity’s sake, but know it needs to die a grisly death. It was a symbol of the cheap attempt to impugn my wife’s extraordinary dignity as my bride of twenty-two years, mother of our eight children, and most importantly, child of God.

There are any number of conclusions that could be drawn from this situation, but for the sake of my five sons who may read this someday, let’s stick with the basics:

  • Our culture indoctrinates many guys into swinehood – don’t be one of them
  • Treat all women with respect and the dignity they deserve
  • Prayer and forgiveness trump anger and violence any day of the week

This situation stretched me to live the beatitudes even though every fiber of my being rebelled. So what would you have done? Or if you’re a woman, how would you want your husband to deal with the situation? Let me know your thoughts.

For now, I’m going to redouble my own efforts to forgive others as I have been forgiven, and even try to be grateful for the spiritual exercise this situation provided. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.