I Was Name-called in the Mall Today by a Total Stranger

Teresa Roberts
3 min readDec 26, 2022


Because I was Wearing a Mask

The sun setting on my world (my photo)

I’ve been waiting for it to happen.

I figured it was just a matter of time until someone somewhere got pissed off at the sight of my mask and persecuted me.

It took place today, in our local mall on the day after Xmas. I’ve been going there before the stores open and walking with a lot of other senior citizens who need to keep moving even though it’s cold outside.

Harmless enough. Right?

Yet I knew eventually that the sight of my mask would trigger someone who’d feel compelled to give me a nasty look, say something hateful, or even worse reach for a hidden weapon.


I know it sounds paranoid but long ago I accepted the fact that in America strangers with an axe to grind with the world carry weapons and on occasion pull them out unannounced in order to slaughter a group of other strangers. It’s their equivalent of a stress relief activity. You don’t even have to know them. It doesn’t require that you first scraped the side of their car with yours or slept with their girlfriend. Nope!

No former connection is needed.

These guys (and they’re always guys) are so butt hurt that they literally feel justified in inflicting pain and suffering on anyone who is unlucky enough to be in the general vicinity.

That’s the new definition of brave boy, big man, and all-American tough guy.

So, I’m happy that no weapon was pulled. I’m thankful that no one was triggered to pull a trigger just at the unbearable sight of me and my husband walking while wearing a mask. Whew!

Instead, the guy walked past us with a sneer on his face and uttered one word.


Yeah, that was it. He called me a retard. If I was the betting type, I’d venture a guess that he was carrying. On most days in America, there’s a good chance that at least 50% of the people sitting in a restaurant, shopping at the mall, or picking up their kids at school are packing a gun. That’s a unique feature of living in America, too.

So, I just assume.

Of course, being who I am, I wanted, although briefly, to confront this symbol of new-age bravery and heroism. It must take a lot of courage for a strong, tall, fit young man to insult a little old silver-haired woman to her face. I wanted to turn around and follow him while asking a zillion existential questions.

I wanted to challenge him to THINK like I once did with my fifth-grade students back in the day.

But of course, I didn’t. I was able to control my urges and make sensible choices. That’s been one of my advantages in life. I’m able to think before I act. I endeavor to employ deliberate actions rather than emotional reactions.

This skill, or maybe it’s a question of intelligence level, has saved me a lot of trouble. I’m able to regulate my behaviors.

Plus, who knows, maybe this impulsive, angry, emotional man was carrying a gun. He seemed the type. After all he was youngish and male. The perfect combo.

I’m glad I was able to just keep walking.

I’m glad he was headed for the exit. But I kept my eyes open for the rest of my walk. After all, I’m an American female and I wasn’t born yesterday. This wasn’t the first time in my 72 years that I’ve been threatened by a male.

Happy New Year!

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.