The Whispering Woman - by Amanda Formaro

I was reminded the other day that we shouldn’t judge people by the way they look. I taught my children not to do it, yet there I was, standing in the customer service line at Walmart doing exactly that.

There were two women in front of me and it was their turn at the counter. One woman was heavy set, and the other was terribly skinny. As I looked the skinny one up and down, I caught myself silently judging her. She looked borderline anorexic, her appearance was sloppy. Maybe she was a drug addict.

She was talking to the woman behind the counter, I could see her lips moving, but I couldn’t hear anything. At first I thought maybe she was deaf because her hands were moving around, but it didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t any sort of sign language.

She was whispering.

But not the kind of whispering that you do when you tell a secret. She was whisper-talking. She was literally talking, and only a whisper was coming out. Needless to say I was unable to hear anything that she was saying, not that it was any of my business mind you. But as she chatted with the woman behind the counter, I became increasingly impatient. There was another employee behind the counter as well, but she was too busy chit chatting with yet another employee rather than helping me (or acknowledging my presence for that matter).

All of a sudden the WalMart employee talking to the whispering woman exclaimed “Oh that’s WONDERFUL! I’m so very happy for you!” The skinny woman and the heavy set woman exchanged a high-five, a few more words were said then they finally left.

Good! It was about time, I felt like I had been waiting forever.

The customer service rep called me to the counter and began working on my transaction. She started telling me a story about the skinny woman that whispered.

“One day her voice started cracking, and within a few days she couldn’t speak louder than a whisper. A few days after that she was diagnosed with throat cancer.”

A shiver went down my spine and I was immediately ashamed.

I never even considered that this woman could be ANY OTHER woman (or man) out there. She could have been me, or you, or my best friend. Cancer doesn’t care who you are, what you dress like, what car you drive. Cancer has no prejudices and doesn’t judge. But here I was – judging.

She continued to tell me that the congratulatory exclamation was because the whispering woman had told her that after many months of treatment she was now in remission. It was because of those treatments that she was so thin. And, here I had been judging her. Guessing that she wasn’t taking care of herself, or was maybe even a junkie. Shame filled me once more.

She also said that the whispering woman had small children at home and she had been struggling to care for them while caring for herself. What a happy day it was for her!

I left feeling embarrassed for myself, even though no one other than me knew I had been secretly judging her with my eyes. I forgot to consider that she had a history, a family, a reason to live. I just looked at her and started drawing conclusions, mostly out of annoyance because I wasn’t being helped fast enough.

So today, I am reminded that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, because truly, you never know what might be inside…

21 Responses to The Whispering Woman

  1. great story Amanda and a even greater reminder to us all 🙂

  2. Wonderful post Amanda, and a very good reminder!

  3. Felicia says:

    You know your brave to post that story and I’m grateful for it. What a beautiful reminder of why we shouldn’t judge!

  4. Susan Wills says:

    Thank you for sharing. Brings to mind the saying don’t judge a book by its cover.

  5. Denise says:

    Everyone is in a hurry nowadays and we are quick to jump to conclusions about others. I find myself wishing my life away on a daily basis and I am always in a rush. Sometimes I stop to wonder why I would wish my life away like that and why I judge other people too. I think we forget that EVERYONE has problems. I try to remember to be kind to everyone I encounter because you just don’t know what kind of a battle they are fighting. Thanks for sharing your story, you sound like a wonderful, compassionate person.

  6. Carrie Bunn says:

    This reminds me of incident that happened to my niece in walmart who has ms and having to be in a wheelchair and looked and acted as tho there was nothing wrong.

  7. Donna Jones says:

    Yes, so many of us are too quick to judge others when we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes first. I catch myself doing it when I am around people who automatically start saying bad things, but then I have to remind myself that probably someone else is doing the same to me. It snaps me right out of that habit.

  8. Esther Hudson says:

    So many times i will judge people also I need to learn to trust God and not judge .

  9. Kathy says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Your story is such a wake up call to me. I’m short on patience and I know how I would have been thinking those things as well. all it takes is a wonderful reminder like your story to zap us back to reality. Thanks.

  10. SCL says:


  11. Cindy says:

    I am sure we have all been guilty of this at one time or another, sure gives us something to think about. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Emma says:

    Thank you. A great reminder. We are so quick to judge and never stop to think.

  13. julia pochinski says:

    That poor woman that has Cancer that is such a ugly word. my sister died in 1995 had lung cancer. Sure do miss her.

  14. Bessie says:

    What a great reminder. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *