The Bully in Tennis Whites

Contributed by Kira Seabolt, July 11, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 2.06.37 PM

A sign inside Whole Foods Greenwich the week of July 4.

I stopped into Whole Foods, as I do most days, to pick up a few items for dinner. Recently, due to their much-needed renovations, it’s been more of an adventure: figuring out through which door to enter and exit and every day things are not where they were yesterday. Yes, it’s a hot mess there  right now, but when all is done, all will be well again.

As I walked passed the customer service desk, this 40-ish year old man in tennis whites is berating the young woman working the cashier. Loudly and rudely, “You shouldn’t be working customer service if you can’t figure out the cash register!” This is just one of the comments he made. I am shocked. I do not like confrontation and believe I am genuinely a nice person, so I am at a loss as what to do. I circle around in an attempt to somehow intervene and protect her. I wanted to say, “Don’t you speak to this girl that way!” and then whisk her away from this horrible man. He would have probably spewed his vitriol at me as well, since at the end of the day, a bully is a bully.

As he demands to see the manager, “Manager, get me the manager!” she, in tears, goes to look for him or her. I followed her instead to make sure she was ok, but all day yesterday and today, I wish I had the courage to step up and do the right thing.

Why do people feel they can treat other people this way? Those who help us every day; they get up, go to work, happily make our coffee, bag our groceries, or help us find us find our organic, gluten-free, mango chips imported from New Zealand, or whatever, and do so with grace and a smile. Not once have I ever seen an employee at Whole Foods ever be anything but kind and helpful.

We complain about our youth, that they are spoiled and entitled. Many are bullies. This is learned behavior from those closest to them.

Next time, I will have the courage to step up and say something. It costs nothing to be kind: a simple smile, a “Hello”, “Have a nice day”, or a “Thank You”. Basic civilities can make someone’s day brighter.

This man ruined that girl’s day, he ruined mine. Maybe the renovations were too overwhelming for him, or maybe he just lost a big tennis match. Whatever is going on in his life, there is no excuse for his behavior. A bully is a bully, even in tennis whites.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 2.06.28 PM

Whole Foods Greenwich the week of July 4.



Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor
Like us on Facebook


  • Nicole Heath

    Good for you! Your compassion is encouraging, and your piece an excellent reminder for all of us. I once worked in college as a waitress, and the experience gave me a life- long compassion and respect for those who serve us. Everyone should have to be in a service position with the general public once in her or his life.

    • greenwichfreepress

      Amen! I worked the counter at Dunkin Donuts in New London during college. I got some abuse but I had a nice boss who would toss the person out on the spot! – Leslie/GFP

    • sarah ito

      Good for you – Unfortunately, people like “tennis whites” are to be found everywhere. Fortunately, there are people like you who speak up.

  • Eddie Berman

    I know I may sound slightly Neanderthal for saying this but I truly believe that part of the reason people get away with treating others with such disrespect is that we, as a society, have forgotten what it is like to have real fear. By that, I mean a healthy fear of repercussions. I am not going to sugar coat the 70’s but the one thing we were all acquainted with was the concept that if you yelled at a someone there was a chance that either that person or someone close to them would “teach you a lesson”. Those lessons were not infrequent, in that bygone era. I’m not sure why, but it seems that many people have forgotten that not only is it the right thing to be kind but it is also the safest route through life. Though the “teachers” of yesterday may be fewer, there are still a few out there who will face the consequences of righting an injustice.

  • Fitness Mom

    You still have the opportunity to go back to the store to speak to the manager yourself. Let them know what you witnessed and let that girl know how much you appreciated her.
    I can’t stand people like Tennis Whites Man and will be the first to step in and defend someone that undeserving of such behavior. I think my younger years of being bullied in school has made me an intolerable person of bully behavior. Your right…. Doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life, people deserve to be treated with respect. Maybe Whole Foods was short handed and she was filling in, regardless Mr.Tennis Whites…. I hope you find a better personality and manage to get your head out of your behind.

    • I agree that it is never too late to make IT RIGHT for that young lady- after reading this i myself feel compelled to make mention that i read about this deplorably” tennis white wearing” BULLY !!
      Your compassion for her will speak volumes and we are a community that should reach out to each to help anyone who needs us!! Have a Blessed DAY!!!!! xo, c

  • Michelle

    Does not surprise me at all. These people ares so disconnected from reality it’s not even funny. They treat their “help” at home like crap, so why wouldn’t they act the same way out in public? And by “help” I mean underpaid and often undocumented women who are too afraid to speak up for fear of not getting paid at the end of the week or losing their job. Yes, I know some people who go weeks without getting paid because who will they tell? They don’t have any rights and that’s why these sorts of people hire them. But by all means more let’s make America great again. Right! Next time you see this sort of behavior, say something. These people need to be told!

  • Matt

    Something tells me that Mr. Tennis Whites wouldn’t have as much courage with another grown man….

  • Barb

    “Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end” Scott Adams

    It is my belief that this quote goes both ways. The guy in the tennis shorts has clearly started a ripple of negative when I see some of the angry comments on a fb page of a friend on whose page I saw this. Another way to look at this and it isn’t easy is everyone is going through something you know nothing about so be kind to to everyone, even the guy in the tennis shorts. He probably needs it most. He was wrong to treat her that way for sure. But maybe his life is lacking something that most of us have and more important than money, a country club membership and a Greenwich address gives. Kindness can be so simple yet in a situation like this it can be the hardest. Create the ripple you want, I choose Kindness.❤

  • rende

    At last someone had the nerve to say something, just because a person is from Greenwich and shops in Whole Foods, doesn’t mean they have manners! “A bully is a bully, even in tennis whites”

    Thank you 🙂

    • Brian McGlynn

      People from Greenwich are not the stereotypes seen by people from elsewhere; just look at the other replies! There are still decent, nice people in Greenwich and some likely would have joined with someone defending that poor clerk. Never be afraid to be the first to do the right thing! After all, the world needs leaders, too!

  • Di

    Yes, you’re right. Mr Tennis White and his ripple sure are lacking something. Morality. Unfortunately I married a man -minus the tennis racket- who was equally abusive to service staff and regularly attacked servers together with his siblings. Their ripples fed each other and added credibility to their sociopathic tendencies. I regret my bad judgment every day and suffered for years before finally severing the marriage. Still detoxing from that poison and working on creating positive ripples. What more can we do to change the tide?

  • Tom Eagan

    This man’s behavior is not new, is not the result of social issues of today, nor pinned to his socioeconomic status; this happens across economic strata, generations and gender. Many citizens, when they are uncomfortable, strike out and blame; we hear this in politics, we see it in work, we experience it in our relationships. It is an ugly part of human nature when so vehement, yet we all know it is true”complaining” generally gets you attention and action. One remedy; yell louder and at him, “I Do Not Understand Why People Need to Abuse others Over Simple Things, Its Embarrassing, Infuriating and Really Shows How Little You Respect Others” One it will gain attention, two it will be directed at the individual of your choosing and when your done, you get to walk away after a just serving of public payback. Its one solution that has worked for me in the past.

  • Dawn Fortunato

    Good article. We should all treat people the way we want to be treated. There are a lot of people in town that seem to think they are entitled and forget what mannerisms are. Like the person you hold the door open for at Starbucks that doesn’t say thank you. I’ve finally started asking them if they thought I had to hold that door open for them or I look them in the eyes and say you’re welcome. I get the deer in the headlight look every time. It’s sad when people think they are better or above someone else or can get away with this kind of behavior. Hey, Mr. Tennis Whites, mean people suck!

  • …….those whites don’t hide his stain…….

  • Mary Bolger

    Unfortunately we all have witnessed this kind of behavior, not just in Greenwich. A bully is a bully is a bully. I cannot stop myself from making a comment to the bully when I see this happening. I start with ” Do you realize how disrespectful and mean you are to this person who is just trying to help us and earn a living?” At least when we speak up, the person being berated doesn’t feel all alone. Generally when you speak up, other people join in as well. I am not interested in what the causes are for the bully to act out but rather to defend somebody who feels helpless. That is the person who the bully targets.

  • achris von Keyserling

    There is a type group who are so fearfully self absorbed, that they have little or no awareness of those around them. This is the same whether in a store, driving, parking on Greenwich Avenue, or in the bank.
    It is not clear whether they know better. Maybe they were raised poorly. Most often, I find, angry people are experiencing great pain and upset in their lives, full of fear, and, like a wounded dog, snap at anyone trying to help them.
    Mr. Eagen has a good analysis, but perhaps fire does not fight fire, as immediately satisfying as it may be. Perhaps a quiet intercession to draw attention away from the “victim”, and a practice of the tolerance we wish from others would go farther in instructing the “bully”.

    In the long run, all of the daily news horrors seem to come back to poor parenting and each person’s attention to their own world, not escaping into the distraction of panic crisis and adrenalin junky behavior.
    Have a nice Day!

  • There is probably more to this story than meets the eye. The author does not provide any information about what the situation was that triggered this man’s anger. In many retail establishments, the standard of competence is rather low. Many clerks cannot do basic math. Even more have a bad attitude towards customers. The author made no effort to look at this incident from the man’s viewpoint. A more objective, even-handed approach would have been more helpful to educate those who read the story to better understand what happened.

  • Betsy

    I agree with the previous comment. Passing judgement after 5 minutes is just as wrong as scolding someone in public for incompetence. Maybe Mr. Tennis Whites wife passed away earlier in the week. Maybe his dog was run over by a car that morning. Maybe he has early dementia. There are tow sides to every story. Shame on GFP for even printing this story.

  • John B.

    It is truly amazing how these so they think Transplants move to Greenwich or visit from NY with the “It’s all about me attitude in life”
    Just drive down the ONCE quaint Greenwich Ave. And see how pathetic and self centered “these” people are.
    I and many other Greenwich Natives are EXTREMELY grateful that GFP posted this article.