My grandmother, mother, daughter and I have all had to hobble around for a day or two because we inserted one of our feet into our mouths. But in the long run, we got results.
My grandmother had taken my daughter to Woolworth's lunch counter for an ice cream sundae. The waitress served my little girl and asked my grandma, "Anything else?" Grandma spoke loudly, "This is my great-grandchild, and she deserves more whipped cream than that."
My daughter wanted to sink under the table, but witnessed firsthand the results of speaking up. Her sundae had a mountain of whipped cream. Then Gram asked for an extra cherry.
I had taken my mom with me to a public meeting on city funding allocations to keep a program afloat. Many officials spoke. At one point my petite mom who was fidgety and could never sit still for long, walked outside to pace and smoke. When a man came out and stood nearby, she looked over at him and said, "Those people are a bunch of nuts talking nothing. Don't you think? They need to keep my daughter's preschool program open and give the schools the money; do it for the kids."
He nodded and listened a bit more to her, and then, the mayor went back inside to take the podium. Fifteen centers received the much sought after grant that funded the early childhood programs.
My daughter was young, working the video department at Schnucks, one of the biggest locally owned supermarkets in town. A young man, a few years older engaged her in conversation. He asked her about working at the store. My daughter speaks in paragraphs, not sentences. After she finished, he extended his hand and said, "Hi, you are refreshingly honest. My dad is Mr. S."
She was mortified when she came home. Complaints were addressed and changes instituted.
I had been running interference for my boss, answering phones while trying to teach a class, prepare for a faculty meeting, and had just returned with students after a fire drill, which was actually a bomb threat. A "suit" walked in looking for my boss and asked, "How's it going?"
I vented, "It would be going a lot better if the right hand knew what the left hand was doing in administration." The school board president extended his hand and introduced himself. He suggested some changes that very day which made a real difference.
Declare your independence, defend yourself, stand up for what you believe in, address a situation respectfully, and never put any official, or higher-ranked individual on a pedestal. Happy Fourth of July.