Andy Blumenthal
Leadership With Heart

Don’t Call Me Sir!

OMG, what a situation I found myself in.

I’m sitting on the bench waiting for a law enforcement officer to call my name.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

And then I hear it.

Andy Blumenthal

As taught, I jump to my feet and with gusto say:

Yes Sir

In a split second, the officer zeros in on me and admonishingly says:

I’m not a Sir!

I’m taken aback, as I watch the officer speak, their face hardened and angular and their full mustache rising and falling with their words.

Shaking it off and just wanting to get past this, but obviously over-focusing on the words now, I accidentally blurt out again my acknowledgement:

Yes Sir

Oh sh*t, what just happened, and I quickly try to recover:

I mean Ma’am

But in the spur of the moment, I don’t even know what I mean, and it’s too late, the officer turns back to me more loudly and harshly and says

Don’t call me Sir!!

Of course I did understand and I am very sensitive to these issues and fully respect diversity and certainly meant no harm to anyone:

To me, there is no question: Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter, All Lives Matter! 

The officer continues obviously having been through this many times before:

Don’t you know that not only men wear the uniform, and I’m NOT a man!

Yes, I do. I apologized profusely, but as I stood in front of this person, at this point, I just had to look down, because every time I looked at the officer in the eyes/face–I couldn’t help genuinely searching somehow for clarity–not just for now but for the future.

Simply, when what you’re seeing and hearing doesn’t match what you typically know as reality, the cognitive dissonance can be jarring even with the best intentions to all.

While my basic principle is to call people whatever they want and to be truly sensitive and respectful to everyone–we are all G-d’s children–I really did learn about the depth of people’s feelings with this and the timing of Pride Month was perfect for this.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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