Grumbling and Grousing

Grumbling and Grousing (March 2022, Week 1 Day 1)

Grumbling and grousing doesn’t do anyone much good and yet…grumbling and grousing were the things filling the room. The people in the room were spread out to the corners and, if you were to have the privilege of sitting on a rafter looking down at the scene, were displaying a full array of personalities. There were the three women in the corner dressed in a way that made it clear they weren’t there to be looked at engrossed in the discussion of the Important Aspects of the question at hand. And to their right the solo man, solo in all meanings of the word, with his arms crossed and a furrowed brow. In the back corner were the older women, seven of them, leaning back in their seats, loose and calm, showing that they’d been there and seen that and weren’t expecting anything unexpected to come from the goings on but wouldn’t have missed being there for anything. Smack dab in the middle were, of course, the young men – full of themselves and sure they had all the answers while not having a lick of experience or knowledge of the issues. They were, of course, the loudest and the most domineering. The left side of the room was less fully attended but if you, from your perch, were to overlook the people on that side of the room, well, you’d be missing out. It was the people on the left side who had a chance of turning the tide and getting the grumbling and grousing to turn into something of merit, something of action. They were all individuals, though, both like and unlike the solo man, and when there are a large group of people the individuals don’t always have enough power to make change. There were a few of them starting to make eye contact, starting to think about coming together into a group of action. But only a few, and only furtively. They had all the right ideas and just needed a catalyst to turn those ideas, born of the grousing and grumbling, into something the others in the room could hear.

So, you, sitting up above it all, might start to think your vantage point gives you what’s really needed to solve the issue. It happens often enough, and it would be unrealistic to presume your immunity to such surges of confidence. You might, if you fought those urges just long enough, have seen that the person at the front of the room had the spark that was needed. You might even decide to join the fray and stand behind them, offering silent support instead of more Good Ideas for the rest to argue over. 

If you did that, though, we wouldn’t have a story. We wouldn’t need to be here. Your silent support and their spark would calm the waters, solve the problem, and send all of the people gathered in that room back to their own lives, their own problems, their own solutions. And where would be the sport in that?


This is part of the 2022 500-Word Short Story project. Comment with “Tell me more” if you’d like to vote for this to move to the next round.


You didn’t mean it.  Or rather, you didn’t realize what you were doing was wrong.  You weren’t the first and you weren’t the last.  You were just one more notch in the belt that tightened around her neck.  You and your thoughtless actions.  You knew they were wrong, deep down, at the core of your being.  You knew.  That didn’t stop you, though.  You were perfectly happy to go the way of the status quo.  You saw others doing the same, treating her with disrespect.  You thought if they could do it, it must just be what’s done.

And here you sit, feeling remorse a day late and a dollar short.  You know, though, that it is your background, your privilege, that makes it so you don’t really have to change.  You can play at it, and make grand gestures and get pats on the back for how progressive you are.  How thoughtful of women.  How generous.

You have changed, a little. You let them finish their sentences.  You keep those jokes to yourself.  You listen when they tell you their thoughts.  Ok…you mostly listen.  You make eye contact instead of staring at their cleavage.  You are trying.

It’s not enough, and you know it.  All that learning and exposure before you knew it are hard to make sense of.  All those friends you made before you learned are hard to be around now. They’re further back from where you are.  They’re not as “woke”. You can see the difference and it makes you both reassured and depressed.  You’ve come a long way, baby.

You straighten your tie before heading to the closed door.  You know she’s behind there. You know she’s waiting for you.  You know that you need to apologize, and you know she’s not likely to accept.  You miss her, and you want this to work.

You knock on the door very lightly, almost as if you hope she doesn’t year you.  You want the fact that you’re knocking, the fact that you’ve come to her on your own.  You want a gold star.


* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *