The Value of a Woman

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Culture, Faith, Family

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. 

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29 Responses to “The Value of a Woman”
  1. Edie says:

    I feel the same way that our human side would want to hurt someone as rude as this scumbag.
    As you well stated we should forgive those who treats us in such disgusting ways as our Father above has forgiven us.
    I probably would have wanted my husband to hunt him down and smash in his face but that would have been before I rededicated my life to the Lord. I am sure that he would have wanted to hunt him down too (God rest his soul). We were married just shy of 34 years before his passing.
    May the good Lord bless you both with many more years together.

  2. Jack says:

    It doesn’t neven need to be my wife. I’m a single, 19-year-old college student, and it makes me sick that so many men treat women like toys. With God’s Grace and Our Lady’s intercession, our derelict culture can be wrangled. Peace be with you all.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I’d probably want my husband to unload a great big left hook on him. And then I’d remember that I’m Catholic, and that we are called to forgiveness.

    Unbelievable. God bless you both.

  4. Kerry Gasson says:

    Kevin (and Kathy) ~ thank you for sharing this story. It was so touching and speaks volumes of the love and respect between a husband and his wife. I plan to pass this along. Thank you so very much. ~ Kerry

  5. Steve S says:

    Honestly, this guy does deserve some strong words from you. Not necessarily for your wife’s sake, but for all the other women he will do the EXACT same thing to. You should make it clear to him that you and every other husband will not tolerate that kind of behavior from him. You don’t have to threaten to punch his lights out or anything like that, but you can certainly threaten to have him investigated (as people like that are usually doing something illegal on the side as it is), report his business to the Better Business Bureau, or, better yet, let his wife/girlfriend/mother know how he treats women. There’s a lot of trouble one man can cause for another without violence. Just your determined and controlled anger given the situation would make him think twice about treating a woman like that again. Heck, bring a buddy as a wingman just to make him that much more nervous! But God bless you for your willingness to put God’s love for this man above your natural desire to despise him. I think that in itself just says how valuable of a lady your wife is — that she deserves to married to someone determined to emulate Christ!

    Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to destroy the bill. Just give it to a teller on your next visit to the bank. They collect damaged money and return it to the Federal Reserve Bank (that used to be one of my previous jobs!). The Federal Reserve will then replace it with another brand new $5 bill the next time they print bills. That way a $5 bill isn’t missing from the money supply for too long!

  6. TheInformer says:

    Smack him hard, like a dog………then forgive……

  7. I agree with Steve. It is an act of Christian charity to correct –or attempt to correct — sinful behavior. It would also benefit your sons to see how a justifiable point is made calmly without overt threat, resulting in a Godly lesson given to benefit women as a group while addressing the issue of Kathi in particular. As a wife and mother, that is how I would hope my husband would handle that kind of situation.

    • Mike says:

      Agree on the need for correcting the wrong behavior and helping curb future incidents. However, knowing myself and though I would have brought the matter to prayer and asking for the Holy Spirit to help, the temptation to anger and violence would probably rear it’s ugly head. Would I be able to keep enough presence of God to handle it. I don’t know.

  8. I also agree with Steve S.’s comments. And I wouldn’t say your feelings weren’t Christlike; I think anger in this situation is perfectly appropriate. And while I wouldn’t advocate violence, I do think it would be perfectly appropriate (and even Christlike) to go into the place and give him a good piece of your mind, even publicly and in front of witnesses. When someone does something like that, he’s most likely done it before, and continues to do it because no one calls him on it.

  9. Paul says:

    This shows a deep connection between God and dignity. Excellent way of handling the situation.

  10. Shane says:

    It’s very emotional, I know, but don’t let your anger get the best of you. Referring to a person as a scumbag – particularly in a public forum such as this – is not indicative of someone who has chosen to “live the beatitudes even though every fiber of my being rebelled.”

    The response of praying the Rosary and doing “not much of anything” to the fellow is certainly the right one. Strive to move even beyond this, to the point where you won’t need to lash out at him after the fact, either!

  11. Mary Anne says:

    Suggestion for the $5- redeem the situation by donating the bill to your Church or another charity. Just a thought.

  12. Heidi says:

    If Kevin had posted the name, the lot’s name, or other things that would have given us this guy’s identity, then he probably would have crossed the line into detraction – publishing someone’s sins unnecessarily. But he didn’t. Anger is not always a bad thing, and to let it be manifested at an appropriate time in an appropriate way is not only healthy, but laudable. The beatitudes do not rob a man of the right – and duty – to uphold and defend the honor of his wife and family in appropriate ways. In this case, personally giving the salesman a piece of Kevin’s mind – with or without emotion – seems entirely appropriate. If Kevin knows anger will master him and end up with his saying or doing things that he knows are inappropriate, the prudent thing is to avoid confrontation. (And when the appropriate way to uphold and defend wife & family’s honor appears to be violence, the State has the first claim – it’s time for the police to get involved.)

  13. Mary Jo says:

    I too agree with Steve and Brennan. Taking along another man who agrees with you would also make a point to the man that you are not the only decent man out there who believes in the dignity of women. Now that enough time has passed, you will probably be able to articulate your anger (which was appropriate) properly. I would also report him to the Better Business Bureau or his boss if he has one. God Bless you both. It could have been so much worse. You are lucky he didn’t keep your wife’s number for himself.

  14. cindy says:

    As a woman who was victimized in this same manner so many times when I was younger, I think it is a mistake to simply forgive and forget. That is what predators like this man expect us to do, so they continue to get away with it. What this guy did was wrong, and what if he did it to your daughter, a young girl, and it went further. It is irresponsible not to press charges, inform his employer and do everything you can to teach this man that what he has done is wrong.
    As a Christian, I know giving him a beat down is not the right thing to do, but just walking away is wrong as well. He will do it again.
    Call the police, file a report, look for a blog that outs these people and pursue it with everything you have got. Do not teach your children that this behavior is okay.
    God Bless

  15. Gina says:

    I think it’s good to pray for someone when they offend us so I commend the charity of the couple here. But. Really. This seems like a lot of drama over a leer and a come on. I think that’s all it was if I read correctly. Has your wife never had to deal with creepy guys before? If she felt he was creepy and still gave him the cell phone number, that was just thoughtless. In this case, she could have said something like ‘oh, gosh. Here is my husband’s cell phone – he can always reach me. He is working out at the gym with our five boys right now’ Big smile – or glare. What ever your style is. To me, the lesson is here, get a strategy for dealing with lecherous behavior so you don’t do dumb things when the situation arises. Then pray for the person. And I am 48, have 5 boys and work in IT – a male dominated industry so this is not a theory.

  16. Barry LaValla says:

    Forgiveness can be one of the most difficult mandates of Christ.
    However forgiveness is not atonement. Stifling anger, violence and revenge is the right thing to do.
    The man can be forgiven AND reported to the BBB or some other consumer watchdog.
    There is an obligation of the victim to prevent others from being victimized. Being a Catholic Christian is not and is not supposed to be easy.

  17. Maria says:

    I think you made a mistake allowing your wife to handle that transaction by herself. My husband and I have sold a few cars over the years. I always handle the ads and the appointments but I never ever handle any personal appearances by myself. In fact we always meet at my husbands office or nearby and soemtimes he just does it himself. Likewise when we sold our home I never showed that house without my realtor or my husband there. It’s just basic safety precautions and also I think it let’s people know that you are not easily messed with. It might have been better if you or a neighbor had accompanied your wife on both trips to that store, but especially the second trip. All the dignity and grace in the world won’t protect you from a lowlife. They only understand a show of force, actual or implied.

  18. Maria says:

    Excuse all the typos above, this iPad is a bear to type with!

  19. ThirstforTruth says:

    Agree totally with Cindy. We do not have to be “door-mats” and roll over to what amounted to totally inappropriate behavior to say the least from this “salesperson” in order to fulfill our Christian obligations. In fact, I would not have gone as far as your wife…after being given the sleaze treatment coupled with the suggestive remark I would have asked for the return of the keys and the car and driven out of there. If that resulted in the loss of sale, so be it. The mother of eight children with a living husband should not have been put in the position you placed her in by not handling this yourself in the beginning. The used car market is filled with seedy characters and I should know as my husband has been a dealer for years. He would NEVER expose me to the kind of risk you exposed your wife ..especially driving the car into what was a seedy looking establishment. A lesson learned. You have lots to be thankful for here. As for turning the 5 dollar bill over to charity ..that would not take the bill out of circulation. As a Christian we have to not only be all the things you mention above but we are required to use prudence too. Not always easy to be Christian!

  20. You both acted in a strong, Christian way. Personally, I don’t think I could have been that mature. I would not have left the car there (selling a car isn’t worth it) and I probably would have socked him. I admire your maturity and Christian love.

  21. juggernette397 says:

    I don’t like violence and certainly wouldn’t want my husband in a fight, but as my Dad used to tell me, scumbags like this were taken care of in the days of his youth. A man… or more than one man, if necessary… would teach the scumbag what happens when you treat a lady like a tramp. He’d never do it again.

  22. Joan says:

    I agree with Steve S. Also Mary Jo in suggesting another man accompany you. These guys need to know there is another side to life. Who will teach them if we don’t?

  23. jeni says:

    I dunno what I would have said, I’m very good at bringing people down to size (God help me) but I wouldn’t have needed my husband’s help, trust me.

  24. Jeff says:

    First, thank you for sharing this…I’m not sure how I would have handled it, probably not as well as you and your wife did, especially if one of my daughters ran into this guy…ugh!

    -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

    The above three points are powerful! You could write a book on each one — they should be in a parents “how to raise your sons” manual.

    Thanks again for sharing –

  25. AnonymousDude says:

    Back in the good ol’ days, you’d be well within your rights to challenge that human male (he doesn’t deserve to be called a “man”, much the way some females out there don’t deserve to be called “lady”) to a duel, meet him on the field of honor, and then proceed to kill him. (Or at least until first blood is drawn…)

    Oh well, those days are no more…

  26. Don M. Jones says:

    I read your Post. Your wife got ‘hit’ on by the salesman, and she didn’t buy into his offer. She handled it very nicely. She can tell her friend who was buying the car of the incident. The person was trying to start a conversation with a ‘beautiful woman’ and he used straight forward, to the point words. She refused his offer. End of story….

  27. Charlie M. Vernon says:

    Didn’t read all the comments my brother, but read your article with intense interest and just wanted to share my one reaction during the reading. When I read the paragraph beginning with “What did I do about it, you might ask?”, and as I read I thought: God bless you brother; [then] God bless you again brother; [then as I finished the paragraph] GOD BLESS YOU A THIRD TIME MY BROTHER, a “TRINITY” of bless you’s! Then a prayer for me; “Lord may I act as this Saintly brother did, if I am ever faced with a similar situation.” You may not be a Saint now brother, but I believe you will one day. God bless you much.

  28. Leslie Palma says:

    Your wife was the one insulted, and she was the one who needed to take action, which she did. I applaud her actions in getting the $5 bill back and facing up to the jerk. As her husband, you have every right to be angry, but this is her battle. Women face creeps like this every day, and we have to be ready to stand up to them immediately and for ourselves. A slime ball like this guy is no match for a mother of eight!

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