Riegel: Short fuses and hostility in a time of uncertainty in Baton Rouge

    He lost it in line over deli ham. The guy just freaked out, went berserk, started yelling.

    I wasn’t there, writes Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel, so I’m not really sure if the problem was that someone cut ahead of him in line or if the lady behind the counter sliced the meat too thin.

    Whatever set him off, things escalated to the point that the manager, who told me the story, had to physically remove this customer from his store.

    “I’ve never had to do anything like that before in all my years of business,” said the manager, whom Riegel doesn’t identify. But, he added with empathy, “people are just at the breaking point. The stress level is unbelievable.”

    This particular incident took place as back-to-back tropical storms—one of which would balloon into a major hurricane, were threatening the Louisiana coastline, five months into a pandemic, during a summer of protests and riots, heading into a fall election that has divided the country in alarming ways. 

    It’s no wonder the guy snapped, Riegel writes in her new opinion piece. Incidents like this are becoming commonplace. 

    This is where we are as a community and a culture at the end of this long, hot, scary summer: People are on the edge, and each day seems to bring fresh reasons for frustration, fear and outright hostility. Louisiana isn’t alone in this either, there is acute suffering across the country. 

    “How does Baton Rouge move beyond this?” Riegels asks.  

     Read her full column here. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com